What Do Wasps Eat?

June 11, 2019

A lot of people are afraid of wasps. Their cousins, the bees, on the other hand, are getting all the love in the world. We take care not to further deplete the bees’ numbers since they are dwindling as of this moment; wasps do not get the same kind of attention we give the bees and we are better off not being bothered by them.  

Why are wasps getting a bad reputation among humans and bees to get the love? Bees are generally seen as gentle creatures. They help pollinate plants and some even make honey.  

In contrast, wasps are such a nuisance to us just by their presence alone. They ruin our outdoor picnics just by being around us. Worse, some wasp species are aggressive and they sting. Their stings, by the way, are painful. Are wasps really no good to us? Do they contribute anything to society? Are they such the scoundrels we always think them to be? There should be more to the wasps than just being a nuisance. Maybe they help the ecology by eating off the bad stuff. Let us give them a closer look.

Overview Of Wasps

Wasps can be distinguished from the bees through their narrow waists and pointed lower abdomens. They come in different colors; they can be yellow, brown, blue, or red. There are around 30,000 species of wasps, and the largest can grow as long as 2 inches in length. The smallest is only .0055 inches in length and is actually the smallest insect in the world - the chalcid wasps which is a solitary wasp.

Wasps are divided into two subgroups: solitary wasps and social wasps. Social wasps include the yellowjackets, paper wasps, and hornets. These wasps set up and live in colonies. Of the 30,000 species of wasps, only a thousand are social.

To give you an idea of how a wasps’ colony starts off every year, a single queen builds a colony out of nothing. This queen was fertilized the previous year and hibernates the rest of the winter, only to emerge in the spring. She would then build a nest where she would lay her eggs. When these eggs hatch, she would take care of her young. Her female offsprings would become her workers. Eventually, these workers would soon increase in number, expanding the nest. Their numbers can increase to as much as 5,000 wasps. This cycle happens every year, since every wasp in the colony would die, including the queen. The newly fertilized queens would be the only ones to survive the winter. The social wasps have stingers that they use only for self-defense.

Solitary wasps do not form any colonies. This subgroup is the bigger group. Some solitary wasps build nests and some do not. An adult female solitary wasp looks for food alone. She builds a nest for herself and her offsprings, and not for a colony. Unlike the social wasps, the solitary wasps use their stingers for hunting. For food, they prey on insects like beetles, spiders, crickets, and aphids. They only attack humans when provoked.

They feed their larvae with insect meat and have the ability to paralyze their prey. This comes in handy so that when their larvae are ready to feed, they would be fed with fresh meat instead of rotting carcasses. Solitary wasps are further divided into three groups: squatters, builders, and, diggers. The squatters do not build their own nests and use only holes that are already existing. The builders build their own nests. The diggers dig holes on the ground for their nests.

Types Of Wasps

Below is a list of the most common wasps in the United States.

Paper wasps
They are among the most common wasps. They help rid gardens of pests, but they sting humans too and can be quite painful. They are called paper wasps because their nests are made of paper-like materials made out of chewed wood. These nests are water-resistant.

Solitary wasps
Solitary wasps are identified by their long and thin bodies. They usually fly alone and are not aggressive. They prey on pests like beetles and aphids.

Wasp Hornet
A wasp hornet is highly aggressive and can attack without provocation and their stings are painful. They are an inch long, dark in color with white, cream, or yellow markings on the abdomen, thorax, and face. They also make paper-like nests out of chewed wood and their saliva, just like the paper wasps. Their nests are large and are usually found in wooded areas and are hanging on tree branches. They can also build nests at the side of houses and utility poles. Removal of their nests is very important since they can be dangerous. Ask help from the professionals in doing so.

Yellowjacket wasps
The yellowjacket wasps are said to be the most dangerous. They are ½ inches to ¾ inches long, black in color with yellow markings. Yellowjacket wasps like “human food” that is why they are usually spotted near trash cans looking for food. If you see their nest within your property, it is important to have it removed immediately because they sting when they feel threatened and are highly territorial. Another behavior of yellowjackets is that they do not travel far from their nests. This means that if you spot one, their nests are just nearby.

What Do They Eat?

Typically, wasps eat insects, plants, fruits, nectar, and honey. The adult wasps do not actually eat the insects, and instead paralyzes them and feed them to their larvae. Another interesting fact about wasps is that after paralyzing their prey, they then insert their eggs inside the prey; the prey becomes host to these eggs. The host would remain alive until such time as the parasitoid larvae emerge as adult wasps.

Wasps prey on spiders, caterpillars, beetles, crickets, and aphids. Some species of wasps are even used to control agricultural pests. In South America, farmers there use parasitic wasps to control the population of sugarcane borers. They are also used in greenhouses (structures made of glass that allow sunlight in wherein plants that require regulated conditions are grown inside) to control whiteflies that attack tomatoes and cucumbers.  

As previously mentioned, yellowjacket wasps eat what humans eat. That is why they are usually found scavenging for food in garbage bins. And paper wasps eat wood. The wood they chew also helps them create paper-like nests.


Wasps are known as nuisance pests, and can even sting when they feel threatened or when they think we are trespassing their territory. They must be removed from your immediate vicinity. Here are some ways to get rid of them:

  1. Wasps forage for food in trash cans. Cover garbage bins and trash cans to cut off their food source. Do not leave any edible materials outdoors.
  2. To avoid being stung by wasps, do not wear sweet smelling or floral perfume. Wasps are attracted to sweets, even by its scent. Once they smell you wearing this, they might come near you and investigate.
  3. Fill in spot holes in your yard. These have the potential to become homes to yellowjacket wasps.
  4. Avoid carrying around opened soft drink cans. Since wasps are attracted to sweet items, you may soon find one inside the soda can.  
  5. You can use traps. You may purchase commercial wasp traps in home-improvement stores.
  6. Seal potential entry points in your house. You might just soon find one in your kitchen looking for food.  

Is There A Good Side To The Wasps?

We have all been looking at the bad side of wasps, which makes us wonder, are there any good at all? Well, like bees, wasps are very good pollinators. By traveling from one flower to another due to their penchant for nectar, they also transfer pollen.  

Like we have mentioned before, they are also used to control pests by farmers. Without them, our gardens and crops would be destroyed by pests.

Since wasps sting when they feel threatened, it may be best to get rid of them when they are within our yard. You may call in the best pest control management in North Carolina, Go-Forth Pest Control if you need to remove a wasp nest in the garden.  

Simply The Best In Pest Control 

Say goodbye to your wasp problems with Go-Forth Pest Control. Go-Forth has excellent experience in controlling pests like wasps, mosquitoes, cockroaches, mice, moths, and many others. They have a team of expert technicians who are highly skilled and well trained while using only the best, the latest, and the most advanced equipment in the business. Their methods are family-friendly and pet-friendly, so you are assured of your family’s safety.

Go-Forth Pest Control is a family-owned company that has earned the trust of residents and businesses in North Carolina for more than 50 years. For more information, just click here or dial 336-841-6111.

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