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Polistes marginalis Fabricius

(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals); Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda; Order: Hymenoptera; Superfamily: Vespoidea; Family: Vespidae; Subfamily: Polistinae; Genus: Polistes)

Polistes marginalis Fabricius, 1804. Holotype Type Locality: Cape of Good Hope, Western Cape, South Africa.

Polistes_marginalis_SAM-HYM-A026693_habitus_lateral Polistes_marginalis_SAM-HYM-A026693_habitus_dorsal
Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

Polistes_marginalis_Marian_Oliver_P3315452 Polistes_marginalis_Marian_Oliver_P4145662
Polistes_marginalis_Marian_Oliver_P3315455 Polistes_marginalis_Marian_Oliver_P3315461
Polistes_marginalis_Marian_Oliver_P4145664 Polistes marginalis nesting in a Protea plant in Scarborough, Cape Peninsula (South Africa). Photographs © Marian Oliver.

Polistes dominula & Polistes marginalis Karla Haupt

Polistes marginalis competing with an alien invasive Polistes dominula wasp for food (Photograph © Karla Haupt)

Polistes marginalis nest on window eave (Fairy Knowe, Cape Town). Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

Polistes marginalis Picker&Griffiths

Photograph © Mike Picker & Charles Griffiths (University of Cape Town) (published in Struik's Field Guide to Insects of South Africa) as Polistes fastidiosus.

Agulhas National Park S 34 43'14.90'' E 19 55'11.56'' Altitude 14 m. Photograph © Jonathan Ball (Tokai).

Mated female overwintering in the shelter of a burnt Protea caffra head in Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, Western Heights, 31.003147 degrees S, 30.158522 degrees E, altitude 420m. Photograph © Graham Grieve.

Rondevlei Nature Reserve, robbing nectar from flower of Erica verticillata. Photograph © Dalton Gibbs.


Gauteng. Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

Hermanus. Photograph © Alexander Wirth.


Tarsal claws on mid and hind legs symmetrical in size (asymmetrical in P. fastidiosus). Colour variable, usually with black areas on reddish-orange ground colour. Pale yellow terminal bands on first two or three metasomal (abdominal) segments. Specimens smaller (8-12 mm in length), than in P. fastidious (13-17 mm in length).


Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Lesotho, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania including Zanzibar, Yémen.


Social, constructing communal paper nests comprising a single comb with downward pointing cells. Larvae are fed on chewed-up, soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars. See Polistinae Paper wasp home page for more details.


Bequaert, J.C. 1918. A revision of the Vespidae of the Belgian Congo based on the collection of the American Museum Congo Expedition: with a list of Ethiopian diplopterous wasps. Bulletin of the AMNH 39: 1-384.

Carpenter, J. M. & J. Kojima. 1997. Checklist of the species in the subfamily Polistinae (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Natural History Bulletin of Ibaraki University 1: 51-92.

Carpenter, J. M. & M. C. Day. 1988. Nomenclatural notes on Polistinae (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Proceedings of the Washington Entomological Society 90: 323-328.

Carpenter, J. M. & M. Madl. 2009. A catalogue of the Vespidae of the Malagasy Subregion (Insecta, Hymenoptera). Linzer Biologische Beiträge 41 (2): 1871-1935.

Picker, M., Griffiths, C & Weaving, A. 2002. Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.


Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa) or

© Marian Oliver (Cape Town, Scarborough specimen) or © Jonathan Ball (Tokai) or © Graham Grieve (Munster) or © Alexander Wirth (Germany) or © Mike Picker & Charles Griffiths (University of Cape Town) published in Struik's Field Guide to Insects of South Africa as Polistes fastidiosus.

Web author Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)


Citation: van Noort, S. 2024. WaspWeb: Hymenoptera of the World. URL: www.waspweb.org (accessed on <day/month/year>).

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