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Polistes Latreille

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

Polistes Latreille,1802. Type species: Vespa gallica Linnaeus, 1767.


Subgenus Gyrostoma Kirby, 1828

Polistes olivaceus Degeer, 1773 (Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion,  Zanzibar. Indigenous to SE Asia, introduced to Afrotropical region and many Pacific ocean islands)


Subgenus Polistella Ashmead, 1904


Polistes albocalcaratus Buysson, 1905 (Madagascar)


Polistes aquilinus Buysson, 1905 (Cameroon, Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Sierra Leone)


Polistes bituberculatus Buysson, 1905 (Madagascar)


Polistes defectivus Gerstaecker, 1871 (Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi,  Mozambique, South Africa (Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal, Western Cape), Tanzania, Zimbabwe)


Polistes ellenbergi Buysson, 1908 (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Republic, Liberia)

Polistes fastidiosus de Saussure, 1853 (Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, including Zanzibar, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa (Gauteng, Cape Province), Sudan, Tanzania, Yemen, Zambia)


Polistes haugi Buysson, 1906 (Cameroon, Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria)


Polistes madecassus de Saussure, 1853 (Madagascar)

Polistes madiburensis von Schulthess, 1921 (Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe)


Polistes saussurei Dalla Torre, 1894 (Comoros, Madagascar)


Polistes sikorae de Saussure, 1900 (Madagascar)

Polistes smithii smithii de Saussure, 1853 (Congo, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe)


Polistes smithii neavei von Schulthess, 1921 (Congo, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia)


Polistes tristis Meade Waldo, 1911 (Kenya)


Polistes tullgreni Schulz, 1906 (Cameroon, Congo)


Subgenus Polistes Latreille, 1802

Polistes africanus Palisot de Beauvais, 1818 (Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, São Tomé, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa (Kwazulu-Natal, Western Cape), Tanzania, Zanzibar)


Polistes albicinctus de Saussure, 1890 (Madagascar)

Polistes badius Gerstaecker, 1871 (Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Yemen, Zimbabwe)

Polistes dominula (Christ, 1791) (Ethiopia. Introduced to South Africa: Western Cape. Widespread in Palaearctic region)


Polistes loveridgei Bequaert, 1938 (Ethiopia, Tanzania)


Polistes macrocephalus Bequaert, 1918 (Congo)

Polistes marginalis marginalis Fabricius, 1804 (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Lesotho, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa (Limpopo, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Western and Eastern Cape), Tanzania including Zanzibar, Yemen)


Polistes marginalis baidoensis Giordani Soika, 1944 (Ethiopia, Somalia)


Polistes marginalis lindensis Giordani Soika, 1981 (Tanzania)


Polistes marginalis meruensis Giordani Soika, 1981 (Kenya, Tanzania)


Polistes mysteriosus Bequaert, 1938 (Congo)


Polistes ornatus Lepeletier, 1836 (Congo, Kenya, Liberia)


Polistes tenellus tenellus du Buysson, 1905 (Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Republic, Congo)


Polistes tenellus lahejensis Giordani Soika, 1981 (Yemen


Polistes tenellus minutissimus Giordani Soika, 1981 (Ethiopia)


Unrecognised species


Polistes flavipennis de Saussure, 1853 (South Africa: Western Cape)


Polistes rubidus Lepeletier, 1836 (South Africa: Western Cape)



Polistes nest Alan Weaving


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


Benadé PC, Veldtman R, Samways MJ & Roets F. 2014. Rapid range expansion of the invasive wasp Polistes dominula (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae) and first record of parasitoids on this species and the native Polistes marginalis in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. African Entomology 22(1): 220-225. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4001/003.022.0104

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 Vespinae (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.

Eardley, C., Koch, F., Wood, A.R. 2009. Polistes dominulus (Christ, 1791) (Hymenoptera: Polistinae: Vespidae) newly recorded from South Africa : short communication. African Entomology 17: 226-227.

Guilherme J.L. & Wit, P. 2015. First records for Guinea-Bissau of Vitelline Masked Weaver and its nesting association with a paper wasp. ABC Bulletin 22: 200 - 203.

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

van Zyl C, Addison P, Veldtman R. 2018. The invasive Vespidae in South Africa: potential management strategies and current status. African Entomology 26: 267-285. http://dx.doi.org/10.4001/003.026.0267


Photographs © Vida van der Walt (Pretoria) or © Marian Oliver (Cape Town) or © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa) or © Mike Picker & Charles Griffiths (University of Cape Town) or Alan Weaving (published in Struik's Field Guide to Insects of South Africa).

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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