12 August 2017

Paper Wasp – Talea’a Valley

Whilst birdwatching in the Talea’a Valley near Abha, in the mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, I came across an unfamiliar wasp. I think it may be a Red Paper Wasp but am uncertain as to its identity. Wasps of the cosmopolitan genus Polistes (the only genus in the tribe Polistini) are the most familiar of the polistine wasps, and are the most common type of paper wasp with over 300 recognized species and subspecies. Their innate preferences for nest-building sites leads them to commonly build nests on human habitation, where they can be very unwelcome; although generally not aggressive, they can be provoked into defending their nests. All species are predatory, and they may consume large numbers of caterpillars, in which respect they are generally considered beneficial. Any help with the identification of the wasp would be very welcome.