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Wasp Identification

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What’s a Wasp?

Wasps are predators and parasitic of other insects.


Although many wasps exist in North America, the two species most common are paper wasps and bald-faced hornets. Wasps are more aggressive than bees. Wasps have thinner sleeker and longer bodies than bees. They have four wings and are smooth and shiny not hairy. Wasps inject their venom with a stinger that goes in and then comes out, so they can sting again. The easiest way to distinguish among the species is by their nests.

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

Paper wasps get their name from the paper-like material from which their nests are made. These nests are begun in the spring by fertile over-wintering females. Nests are comprised of many cells; each cell wall is made of wood pulp similar to that from which paper is made. Paper wasps are yellow and black, and are about ¾ inch to one inch in size. Their sting can be quite painful-and they will aggressively protect their nests.

Yellow Jacket Wasp

Yellow Jacket Wasp

Yellow jackets are social colonizers with a queen/worker structure. Yellow jacket queens are more than an inch long, the workers are a little shorter about 3/4th inch, and all have a typical pattern of black and yellow markings. Yellow jackets usually construct a subterranean nest, but occasionally build them in wall voids, attics and above ground sites.

Mud Dauber Wasp

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers vary in size from medium to large, usually around an inch long. They are sometimes called thread-waisted wasps. The most familiar aspect of mud daubers is their nest which is made of mud or clay and attached against houses, under eaves or bridges, and often inside garages. Cylindrical cells of mud are built side by side until they make a mass that may be the size of a softball. The mud nest is smoothly plastered over the entire outer surface. Mud daubers rarely sting and do not defend their nests.

Bald Faced Wasp

Bald Faced Wasp

Bald-faced hornets are actually wasps, and are about 3/4th inch in size. They are black with white stripes around their thorax and abdomen. They can fly very fast and are extremely aggressive. Bald-faced hornets create a nest which is gray and round. It ranges from softball to beach ball size. These nests are made from cellulose and are quite strong. Likely nest locations include trees, shrubs and around overhangs of buildings. They will defend the location of their nest.

If you do find wasps in your home, contact us. We’ll be able to inspect your property, perform proper wasp species identification, and recommend a course of wasp control.