It turns out that paper wasps are pretty chill! If you’re not a threat to them or their nest, and you’re also not something they want to eat, then they just don’t care about you, even if you insist on snapping flash pictures of them from six inches away.
If you are something they want to eat, that’s a different story. P. metricus, like most paper wasps, eats only nectar and soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars; the yellow-and-black P. dominula aside, they don’t have the jaws to deal with a hard carapace. But of such soft-bodied insects they are ferocious hunters, and I caught these shots among others when a few P. metricus individuals found a fall webworm nest near work a month ago.
I ended up being glad I’d gotten these shots while I had the chance. A couple days later, the fall webworm nest was gone.