WHAT ARE WASPS?

Wasps are insects of the narrow-waisted suborder Apocrita of the order Hymenoptera which is neither a bee nor an ant; this excludes the broad-waisted sawflies (Symphyta), which look somewhat like wasps but are in a separate suborder. The wasps do not constitute a clade, a complete natural group with a single ancestor, as their common ancestor is shared by bees and ants. Many wasps, those in the clade Aculeata, can sting their insect prey.


Yellow jackets are among the most common species of wasps in the United States, along with red paper wasps, mud daubers, and ground wasps. Wasps vary in appearance based on species but do share some common characteristics.

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YELLOW JACKETS

3/8″ – 5/8″ long

Black and yellow

6 legs, segmented oval body

RED PAPER WASPS

5/8″ to 3/4″ long

Brownish with yellow/reddish marking, lighter legs and antennae

6 legs

MUD DAUBERS

1/2″ - 1+" long

Usually black with pale markings or a metallic luster

6 legs, long and slender with a thread-like waist

 

What do I look for?

Wasp nests vary depending on the species that makes them. Social wasps tend to make their nests above ground while solitary wasps mostly make their nests below ground.


Above ground nests tend to share the same characteristics:

  • Gray or light tan in color

  • Round or spherical in shape

  • Has at least one entrance/exit hole

  • Has combs on the inside that may or may not be visible

  • Made of mud or a paper-like substance


Below ground nests are typically non-descriptive. The wasp will make combs beneath the ground, but only the hole in the ground that the wasp comes in and out of will be visible.

 

Where do I look for?

Wasps make their nests in areas that are generally not disturbed. Solitary wasps usually make nests below ground while social wasps make their nests above ground.


Above ground wasp and hornet nests can be found in the following places:

  • In trees

  • In bushes

  • Beneath decks and patios

  • Beneath the eaves of a house

  • In a crack or crevice of a house or building

  • Behind shutters

  • On or near outdoor light fixtures

  • On playgrounds

  • On mailbox stands

  • Inside unused grills


Below ground nests can be found in dirt, but also in the following areas:

  • Beneath concrete or asphalt slabs, such as driveways or patios

  • Under rocks

  • Below fallen branches or logs

Once you know that you have a wasp or hornet nest, you will need to remove the nest and treat the area to prevent the pests from returning.