European paper wasp Polistes dominulus, copyright Hans Hillewaert.

Belongs within: Polistinae.

Polistes is a genus of social wasps whose nests usually comprise small paper combs suspended from a peduncle (Richards 1978).

Characters (from Richards 1978): Usually larger wasps. Humeri with a keel separating off a narrow, smooth area in front of the first thoracic spiracle. Mesoscutum margined opposite the tegula. Muscle-slit of the propodeum long and narrow, more or less pointed at the top. Second gastral tergite and sternite overlapping, not at all fused.

<==Polistes Latreille 1802 NK11 [Polistini]
    |--P. (Polistes) C85
    |    |--*P. (P.) gallicus (Linnaeus 1767) [=Vespa gallica] C85
    |    |--P. (P.) chinensis H02
    |    `--P. (P.) dominulus (Christ 1791) [=Vespa dominula] C85
    |--P. (Aphanilopterus) aterrimus CC85
    |--P. (Gyrostoma Kirby 1828) NK11
    |    |--P. (G.) diabolicus de Saussure 1853 NK11
    |    |--P. (G.) rothneyi Cameron 1900 NK11
    |    `--P. (G.) tenebricosus Lepeletier 1836 NK11
    |--P. (Megapolistes van der Vecht 1968) C85
    |    |--P. (*M.) olivaceus (DeGeer 1773) C85 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--P. (M.) balder Kirby 1888 C85
    |    |--P. (M.) erythrinus Holgren 1868 C85
    |    |--P. (M.) facilis Saussure 1853 C85
    |    |--P. (M.) schach (Fabricius 1781) [=Vespa schach] C85
    |    |--P. (M.) semiflavus Holmgren 1868 R78
    |    `--P. (M.) tepidus (Fabricius 1775) C85 [=Vespa tepida C85, P. (Gyrostoma) tepidus NK11]
    |         |--P. t. tepidus [incl. P. malayanus Cameron 1906] C85
    |         |--P. t. arthuri R78
    |         |--P. t. picteti Saussure 1853 C85
    |         |--P. t. religiosus R78
    |         `--P. t. speciosus R78
    |--P. (Polistella Ashmead 1904) NK11
    |    |--P. (*P.) manillensis Saussure 1853 C85
    |    |--P. (P.) affinis Gusenleitner 2006 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) bambusae Richards 1978 R78
    |    |    |--P. b. bambusae R78
    |    |    `--P. b. humboldti Richards 1978 R78
    |    |--P. (P.) bernardii Le Guillou 1841 C85
    |    |    |--P. b. bernardii C85
    |    |    |--P. b. comis Cheesman 1951 R78
    |    |    |--P. b. duplicinctus Richards 1978 C85
    |    |    |--P. b. insulae Richards 1978 C85
    |    |    |--P. b. papuanus Schulz 1904 [=P. marginalis papuanus, P. stigma papuanus] R78
    |    |    `--P. b. richardsi G. Soika 1975 R78
    |    |--P. (P.) buruensis Petersen 1990 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) callimorpha de Saussure 1853 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) elegans Smith 1859 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) extraneus Kirby 1883 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) flavobilineatus NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) horrendus Gusenleitner 2006 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) humilis (Fabricius 1781) [=Vespa humilis] C85
    |    |    |--P. h. humilis (see below for synonymy) C85
    |    |    |--P. h. centrocontinentalis Giordani Soika 1975 C85
    |    |    `--P. h. synoecus Saussure 1853 (see below for synonymy) C85
    |    |--P. (P.) meadeanus (von Schulthess 1913) NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) multipictus Smith 1860 R78
    |    |--P. (P.) nigerrimus Gusenleitner 2006 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) nigrifrons Smith 1859 NK11 [=P. (Stenopolistes) nigrifrons R78]
    |    |    |--P. n. nigrifrons R78
    |    |    `--P. n. obdurus Cheesman 1951 R78 [=P. (Stenopolistes) nigrifrons obdurus] R78
    |    |--P. (P.) philippinensis de Saussure 1853 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) sagittarius de Saussure 1853 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) sgarambus Giordani Soika 1975 C85
    |    |--P. (P.) simulatus Smith 1860 NK11
    |    |--P. (P.) stigma (Fabricius 1793) NK11 [=Vespa stigma R78]
    |    |    |--P. s. stigma R78
    |    |    `--P. s. tamula (Fabricius 1798) R78
    |    |--P. (P.) townsvillensis Giordani Soika 1975 C85
    |    |    |--P. t. townsvillensis C85
    |    |    `--P. t. austrinus Richards 1978 C85
    |    `--P. (P.) variabilis (Fabricius 1781) [=Vespa variabilis] C85
    `--P. (Stenopolistes van der Vecht 1972) C85
         |--P. (*S.) lateritius Smith 1857 C85 [=P. (Polistella) lateritius NK11]
         |--P. (S.) laevigatissimus Giordani Soika 1975 C85
         `--P. (S.) riekii Richards 1978 C85

Polistes incertae sedis:
  P. canadensis B06
  P. cinerascens B06
  P. crinitus B06
  P. fasciatus L02
  P. ferreri B06
  P. ferrugineus L02
  P. fulvofasciatus [=Vespa fulvofasciata] L02
  P. fuscatus WD04
  P. hebraeus MS01
  P. jadwagae SS99
  P. jokohamae T06
  P. liliaceusculus B06
  P. limai B06
  P. linearis [=Vespa linearis] L02
  P. marginalis (Fabricius 1775) [=Vespa marginalis] GS61
    |--P. m. marginalis GS61
    `--P. m. africanus Palisot de Beauvais 1805 [=P. africana] GS61
  P. metricus HH07
  P. opinabilis YS10
  P. petiolatus L02
  P. ruficornis B06
  P. smithii Saussure 1854 GS61
    |--P. s. smithii GS61
    `--P. s. defectivus Gerstaecker 1871 GS61
  P. spinolae B06
  P. stotherti Meade-Waldo 1916 R78
  P. subsericeus B06
  P. versicolor B06

Polistes (*Megapolistes) olivaceus (DeGeer 1773) C85 [=Vespa olivacea C85, P. (Gyrostoma) olivaceus NK11; incl. V. hebraea Fabricius 1787 R78]

Polistes (Polistella) humilis humilis (Fabricius 1781) [incl. P. humilis pseudoschach Giordani Soika 1975, P. tasmaniensis Saussure 1853, P. tricolor Saussure 1853] C85

Polistes (Polistella) humilis synoecus Saussure 1853 [incl. P. humilis clarior Giordani Soika 1975, P. variabilis reginae Meade-Waldo 1911, P. humilis xanthorrhoicus Giordani Soika 1975] C85

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B06] Brèthes, J. 1906. Véspidos y eumenídidos sudamericanos (nuevo suplemento). Anales del Museo Nacional de Buenos Aires, serie 3, 6: 310–377.

[C85] Cardale, J. C. 1985. Vespoidea and Sphecoidea. In: Walton, D. W. (ed.) Zoological Catalogue of Australia vol. 2. Hymenoptera: Formicoidea, Vespoidea and Sphecoidea pp. 150–303. Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.

[CC85] Carpenter, J. M., & J. M. Cumming. 1985. A character analysis of the North American potter wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Eumeninae). Journal of Natural History 19 (5): 877–916.

[GS61] Giordani Soika, A. 1961. Hymenoptera (Aculeata): Vespidae. In: Hanström, B., P. Brinck & G. Rudebeck. South African Animal Life: Results of the Lund University Expedition in 1950–1951 vol. 8 pp. 440–451. Almqvist & Wiksell: Uppsala.

[H02] Harris, A. 2002. Recent range extensions of some introduced Hymenoptera, with observations. Weta 24: 20–21.

[HH07] Hines, H. M., J. H. Hunt, T. K. O'Connor, J. J. Gillespie & S. A. Cameron. 2007. Multigene phylogeny reveals eusociality evolved twice in vespid wasps. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104 (9): 3295–3299.

[L02] Latreille, P. A. 1802. Histoire Naturelle, générale et particulière des crustacés et des insectes vol. 3. Familles naturelles des genres. F. Dufart: Paris.

[MS01] Mocsáry, A., & V. Szépligeti. 1901. Hymenopterák [Hymenopteren]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 121–169. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[NK11] Nicholas, A. S., J. Kojima, M. Y. Ruslan, M. Fauzi & A. B. Idris. 2011. A list of social vespid wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) from Kuala Lompat, Krau Wildlife Reserve, Pahang, peninsular Malaysia. Serangga 16 (1): 59–74.

[R78] Richards, O. W. 1978. The Australian social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Australian Journal of Zoology, Supplementary Series 61: 1–132.

[SS99] Stein, G. M., G. Schaller, U. Pfüller, M. Wagner, B. Wagner, M. Schietzel & A. Büssing. 1999. Characterisation of granulocyte stimulation by thionins from European mistletoe and from wheat. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1426: 80–90.

[T06] Tsurusaki, N. 2006. Geographic variation of chromosomes and somatic morphology in the Japanese polymorphic species Leiobunum hiraiwai (Arachnida: Opiliones: Sclerosomatidae). Zootaxa 1325: 157–190.

[WD04] Wardhaugh, C. W., & R. K. Didham. 2004. The effect of introduced wasp (Vespula vulgaris, Hymenoptera: Vespidae) predation on the dispersive life history stages of beech scale insects (Ultracoelostoma spp., Homoptera: Margarodidae). New Zealand Entomologist 27: 91–101.

[YS10] Yefremova, Z. A., & I. S. Strakhova. 2010. A review of the species of the genus Elasmus Westwood (Hymenoptera, Eulophidae) from Russia and neighboring countries. Entomologicheskoe Obozrenie 89 (3): 634–661.


  1. Christian Schmid-Egger The current name is Polistes dominula :-)

    1. You sent me on a bit of a quest with this one, Ruud. I had come across the 'dominula' vs 'dominulus' point before but not in a formal publication, and my general philosophy on this site has been to defer to the authorities cited as much as practicable. I've finally found a source that actually cites the need for correction in Castro & Dvorak (2009); I'll be integrating this source and making the correction in a future update of this entry.


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