Paper Wasp Colonization for Tent Caterpillar Control in Pecan Groves

1999 Annual Report for FS99-086

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 1999: $506.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:

Paper Wasp Colonization for Tent Caterpillar Control in Pecan Groves


Tent caterpillars, army worms, horn worms, and grasshoppers all contribute, to varying degrees, to leaf defoliation in pecan trees. Conventional application of insecticides will eradicate these pests but will also kill beneficial insects such as paper wasps, lady beetles, and lacewings as well as damage beneficial bird populations.

We propose colonizing large numbers of Polistes wasps, commonly known as paper wasps, as an effective control against these pests. The paper wasp’s diet consists of soft-bodied insect pests, such as caterpillars and some grasshoppers. The colonization of paper wasps in agriculture is not a new idea; Chinese farmers have used this technique since ancient times.

Paper wasps can be permanently colonized. We have observed this colonization in our pecan grove during the last three years, using fifty wasp boxes spread evenly throughout the twenty-four acre grove. We propose adding 150 new wasp boxes, bringing the total number to two hundred boxes and then assess the extent of damage from tent caterpillars at various distances from the boxes as well as throughout the grove. We will also compare damage in our grove to damage in other groves in the area using chemical control.


Carl Espelie

University of Georgia