What causes paper wasp aggression?

For the last three years, a colony of European Paper Wasps has lived in the squirrel baffle on the bird feeder pole. They’ve been extremely docile, peaceful and easy to work around - until this year. We’ve been stung twice now. What could be going on that has made our friendly neighbors turn into grumps?

No bird seed in the feeder this summer. (More predation from birds?)
No seed catcher hanging above the baffle (less protection)
I’ve noticed less inverts in the yard in general, maybe weather conditions causing less food? This year’s new queen is more aggressive?

Tl;Dr: Polistes dominula went from being friendly past years to being mean this year. What might be happening?

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Hmm, I’m no expert in this area but I do know colonizing species are more aggressive than solitary. Maybe the nest got bigger and now there is more reason to defend it? I don’t really know. I don’t usually let those types of wasps live on or near the house. I’m fine to leave them alone in the woods though

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Wasps are just so random. They are like toddlers, cute (in my opinion) and so unpredictable. They have never stung me, I acually don’t mind if they land on me bc I figure holding still is better, but I know so many people who just get randomly stung. like @bonesigh said, they might have a bigger nest and are more protective now.

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Honestly, I think wasps occasionally just wake up and decide that today is a day they want to commit murder. I got stung enough times when I was a kid when I was just doing my own thing in the vague vicinity of them that I give them a healthy distance

Yes, I was recently stung by a wasp near a small nest that we had been close to many times before, without being bothered. With some species such as yellow jackets, time of year can make difference; they tend to be more aggressive in late summer and fall.

They do have a bigger nest this year. I’m planning to remove the nest after the weather freezes this year. Next year they’ll have to start from scratch, so maybe that will help. I can’t plug the hole unfortunately and I know they’ll be back. It’s a great sheltered location so I can’t say I blame them.

Paper wasps seem to be less aggressive if there are people passing by often. If they don’t see many people they become nasty when people pass by. I get attacked by wasps in my shed much more than wasps near the house.

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In my experience, on the superficial paper wasps become more aggressive as their nest size increases. As to underlying causes, that is the question eh?

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