Spider Wasp

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Family Pompilidae

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?
  • Color: Spider wasp color varies by species, but many are black or blue with dark, large black, blue, or orange-yellow colored wings.
  • Size: Adults range in size from about 1/2 - 2 inches long.
  • Characteristics: A prominent characteristic is a curled antenna at the front of the wasp’s head. If you see a wasp with the abovementioned coloration running on the ground, flickering its wing with a spider in its grasp, more than likely it is a spider wasp.

How Did I Get Spider Wasps?

The wasps are generally recognized as they scurry on the ground searching out prey. While their larvae feed on live spiders that the female wasp has paralyzed and placed inside her ground nest, spider wasp adults eat flower nectar. As a result, an abundance of spiders or houseplants inside can attract spider wasps. Moisture may also bring the pests indoors. Some spider wasps burrow in mud and rotting wood, so they sometimes move inside searching for nesting sites.

How Serious Are Spider Wasps?

Are They Dangerous?

Although they are not aggressive and are solitary wasps, spider wasps will sting when they feel threatened. For most people, a sting causes mild pain and swelling. Allergic individuals can have a more extreme reaction.

Indication of Water Damage

In addition, spider wasp infestations are often a sign of water damage causing decay and rot to the wood in the home. Any resident who notices the pests should check for leaky pipes.

How Do I Get Rid of Spider Wasps

What You Can Do

If you need to exercise control against spider wasps:

  • Use the garden hose to spray water and drive the wasp away, or swat the wasp with a rolled up newspaper or fly swatter.
  • Pesticides are not recommended, especially where insecticide deposits could be picked up by honeybees and carried back to their hive.
  • Since it is unlikely that more than one spider wasp is encountered by the homeowner, doing nothing except letting the wasp escape is recommended.

If you need expert assistance, call your pest management professional who will advise and provide you with recommendations.

What Orkin Does

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

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


Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Like most other solitary wasps, this species is not aggressive and would prefer to run or fly away than stick around to sting someone. This meek behavior is common for most wasps that live alone and are self-reliant, making their own nest, and caring for their own young.

What Do They Eat?

Spider wasps have earned their common name as the result of being such efficient hunters and killers of spiders, which they use to feed to their offspring. Adult spider wasps do not eat spiders, but get their nourishment from plant nectar. Spider wasps are one of the many ground burrowing solitary wasps whose survival depends on capturing prey and bringing it back to the nest to feed larvae.

Where Do They Live?

Spider wasps are distributed throughout most of the United States.

Life Cycle

The spider wasp life cycle has four distinct stages:

  1. Egg
  2. Larvae
  3. Pupae
  4. Adult
Egg Laying

Soon after the adult female wasp emerges from the burrow, she begins to hunt for spiders. Upon finding suitable prey, the wasp attacks and stings the spider, a sting that paralyzes but does not cause the spider to die. She then drags the spider back to her burrow, lays an egg on the spider, and that spider becomes food for the wasp’s larval stage.

Larvae and Pupae

Its annual life cycle begins in the spring when the overwintering pupal stage of the wasp changes into an adult. Since most species of spider wasps are ground burrowing wasps, the pupa is protected from the effects of the cold weather while spending the winter in the burrow.

Lifespan

The spider wasp has only one generation per year.