Facts, Identification & Control
Varies tremendously depending on species. Most have two pair of wings and a pinched waist. They range in colors from black to metallic greens and blues and vary in size from almost microscopic to several centimeters long.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Wasp species are categorized as social or solitary. As their name implies, social wasps live in colonies, which may number in the thousands. Within these colonies, female workers perform all duties within the nest. Solitary wasps live alone and therefore do not have a colony. They do lay eggs, but their eggs are left alone to hatch.
Some wasps are predatory, while others are parasitic. Predatory wasps kill and consume other insects as well as other animals which they often feed to their larvae. Parasitic wasps typically lay their eggs in the bodies of living creatures like caterpillars or spiders. The larvae feed on the still-living host. Wasps can assist in the management of other pests, particularly in agriculture as biological control agents. Many wasps also feed on nectar from flowers and therefore function as pollinators.
Some wasps are aggressive species and can sting when threatened. Unlike honey bees, wasps often are capable of stinging multiple times.
Late in the summer, the queen of some species will produce unfertilized eggs. These will develop into males. The males will fertilize the wasps that will become the queens of the following year. These fertilized females will overwinter in a sheltered location. In most cases, the rest of the colony will perish when winter comes. Next spring, the queen will start laying eggs. The fertilized eggs that they produce will become workers, building the nest and feeding the larvae produced by the queen.
Signs of a Wasp Infestation
Signs are dependent on species, but most often the workers and the nest are the most likely signs.
Wasps often are beneficial to mankind. Several species are used by humans as parasites to control pests, such as in agriculture. Others are predators that help maintain insect populations. Others function as pollinators and help with plant fertilization.