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Emerald Cockroach Wasp Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from emerald cockroach wasps by learning techniques for identification and control.

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Ampulex compressa
Jewel wasp
22-28 mm long
Metallic blue-green body
Pair of red legs


How do I get rid of emerald cockroach wasps?

What You Can Do

Encountering an emerald cockroach wasp (jewel wasp) is not likely in the United States as they reside mostly in Africa and Asia, plus a few Pacific Islands. These wasps do have stingers but are usually solitary and will only attack if provoked. Emerald cockroach wasps are not social and do not have a colony nest containing other wasps. If you do encounter this wasp it is recommended to keep your distance and contact a pest control provider immediately.

What Orkin Does

If you need help with an emerald cockroach wasp infestation, seek the assistance of your pest management professional rather than relying on do-it-yourself procedures.

  • Your pest management professional will identify any insect specimen to ensure that the correct treatment are used.

  • Your pest management professional can also advise you whether it is worthwhile to apply conventional insecticide for jewel wasp control.

Your local Orkin Pro is trained to help manage emerald cockroach wasps and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin Pro will design a unique treatment program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep emerald cockroach wasps in their place…out of your home, or business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Emerald Cockroach Wasps

What do emerald cockroach wasps look like?

The emerald cockroach wasp, also known as the jewel wasp and the zombie cockroach wasp, is a solitary wasp that has a metallic blue-green body and red thighs on the second and third pair of legs. The female is about an inch long. The male is smaller, only about half the size of the female and lacks a stinger. These insects have a slender body and long antennae. They range in size from 22-28 millimeters in length.

What do emerald cockroach wasps eat?

The emerald cockroach wasp is a solitary wasp of the family Ampulicidae. It is known for its unusual reproductive behavior, which involves stinging a cockroach and using it as a host for its larvae to feed upon. Because of this unusual behavior, this species of wasp belongs to the groups of parasites that eat insects. Both the larvae and the adult wasps kill and feed on roaches. Emerald cockroach wasps are extremely territorial, and they won’t share their prey with other wasps. Emerald cockroach wasps can fly up to several hundred meters in search of a host cockroach.

Where do emerald cockroach wasps live?

The emerald cockroach wasp is native to much of Africa and Asia, plus a few Pacific Islands. Emerald cockroach wasp insects live for approximately 3-4 months.

How do emerald cockroach wasps reproduce?

A female emerald cockroach wasp will mate only once in its lifetime. Once she has mated, she carries dozens of fertilized eggs. Emerald cockroach wasps are solitary wasps, which means they live, hunt, and raise their young all alone. A fertile wasp will lay two eggs for each cockroach she catches. She’ll lay these two eggs between the roach’s legs. After the eggs hatch, the larvae begin feeding on the roach as their feeding moves into the roach’s abdominal cavity. After eating the roach’s inner organs, the larvae enclose themselves in a cocoon. When they’re ready to emerge as adults, they will erupt out of the cocoon, ripping through the old roach’s carcass at the same time. The entire feeding process takes around 13 days until the roach finally dies, and the larvae enter the pupal stage inside its body.

How do emerald cockroach wasps turn cockroaches into zombies?

The emerald cockroach wasp seeks out a cockroach and then uses a series of steps that turn that roach into a mindless sort of zombie. It does this by using an amazing innate ability to sting specific nerve clusters in the roach:

  1. The first sting stops the roach from trying to escape the wasp. This sting paralyzes the front legs so the cockroach will not run.

  2. The second sting into a second nerve cluster will cause the cockroach to stop its normal behavior and act strangely. The roach will engage in excessive grooming behavior and then the roach becomes sluggish and staggers around.

  3. The emerald cockroach wasp then chews off parts of the roach’s antennae. About half of each antenna gets chewed off which further immobilizes the roach and allows the wasp some food.

  4. Using the remaining antennae as a kind of “leash”, the wasp guides the roach to its burrow. Venom injected into the roach has completely overridden the roach’s normal flight defense and now it is the wasp’s host.

  5. Once inside the burrow, the wasp lays an egg on the roach's abdomen and then covers up the entrance of the burrow with small white pebbles. The venom keeps the roach in a semi-comatose state and the pebbles keep other predators away.

  6. In about three days, the larva hatches out of the egg and begins to feed on the cockroach's body. The larva burrows into the roach's abdomen and lives there, slowly eating the roach's organs.

  7. The wasp larva forms a cocoon and nests within the roach’s body until it reaches a more mature stage.

  8. When mature, the wasp emerges from the roach's body and then from the burrow to go about its routine until it's time for it to mate and then find another unfortunate cockroach.

Other Zombie Insects

Zombie Caterpillars

The caterpillar is infected with a virus that alters the normal behavior of the caterpillar.

Zombie Ants

The ant loses control of its body becoming a “zombie” as the fungus takes over its brain.

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