This wasp is likely a female that has overwintered. Soon she will find a place to construct a new nest using “paper” made of chewed wood fibers from fence posts and other weathered wood. Their open paper nests are built in sheltered areas like under decks, eaves of homes, barbeque grills, or under picnic tables. The adults, like other paper wasps, feed on nectar from flowers and other sugary liquids. They use their carbo-fueled energy to prey on other insects, which are chewed up and fed to their growing larvae. This species is a recent arrival to North America, arriving accidentally in Boston in 1970, but is now the most common paper wasp in much of the Pacific Northwest. It can be distinguished from our native wasps by its orange antennae. Most of our native wasps have black antennae.
Photo by Kristi DuBois on 4/21/20 in Missoula MT.