New Paper Wasp Species Discovered Near Zurich, Switzerland

Posted on May 17, 2014

Swiss Paper Wasp

A new wasp species, the Swiss paper wasp (Polistes helveticus), has been discovered in a swampy area near Zurich, Switzerland. The species has been long known in Central Europe but was confused for decades with a closely related species native to southern Europe. It was only after the Swiss paper wasp extended its range (possibly due to climate change) that the difference in the two species was noticed.

Six years ago Swiss entomologist Rainer Neumeyer discovered a population of paper wasps in wetlands close to Zurich. He thought that he had found P. bischoffi, a well-known species in Switzerland. But Neumeyer found another species at the same location. It was quite similar to the first, but it was unusual and could not be identified with certainty.N eumeyer contacted scientists Gaston-Denis Guex from the University of Zurich, Hannes Baur from the Natural History Museum of Bern, and Christophe Praz from the University of Neuchatel. The scientists used genetic and morphometric analyses to confirm the coexistence of two distinct species at the locality close to Zurich.

Polistes helveticus

The new species is described here in the journal ZooKeys.

Image: Christine Dobler Gross

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