Gerry reminds us that the late Eartha Kitt, Catwoman forever, collected wasp nests. I don’t have a whole nest, alas, but here are some pieces of nests for your perusal. Note that paper wasps, Polistes fuscatus, don’t build the football-shaped nests that are usually attributed to them; their nests are a single horizontal layer of paper cells. The usually gray football-like nests are actually the work of bald-faced hornets, Dolichovespula maculata. This is the best time of year to see them, hanging like evil eggs in the bare tree limbs. They are typically gray, as in this piece, which I found in California: But, depending on the type of wood they are chewing, other colors can be found. This reddish paper was from a nest in our own Prospect Park:
Winter, by the way, is also the best time of year to collect the nests. After the first couple of hard freezes the nests are cleaned out and abandoned. Don’t go messin’ with ’em in spring and summer, though.