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Stinging insects like wasps and hornets often make themselves at home on your property. Their stingers can be dangerous to people. Unlike bees who can only sting once, wasps can sting multiple times. Some species of wasps are aggressive and sting without provocation, and others will only attack if their nest is threatened.

You can differentiate a wasp from a bee by noting its narrow waist and pair of wings. When threatened, it will raise its abdomen and use its stinger to inject venom into the attacker. Wasps usually live in large colonies and build nests out of paper or chewed-up leaves.


Wasps are generally characterized by their narrow waist, bright colors (often yellow and black), and two pairs of wings. Their appearance can differ greatly, from the robust, larger wasps, like the hornets, to the smaller parasitic wasps. Key identification features include:

  • Body Shape: Unlike bees, wasps have a slender, elongated body with a distinct, pinched waist.
  • Wings: Two pairs of wings, with the hind wings smaller than the front ones.
  • Stinger: Female wasps possess a stinger, which can be used multiple times.

Common Wasps Species

Bald-Faced Hornet

This wasp isn't truly a hornet but a yellowjacket. They are distinguishable by their large size and distinctive white and black coloration, giving them their "bald-faced" descriptor. Their nests are usually found hanging from tree branches or under eaves and can grow to be the size of a basketball. Inside, the queen lays her eggs, which develop into workers that maintain and guard the nest. While not particularly aggressive, they will defend their nests fiercely when threatened. Their stings are painful, and individuals allergic to wasp stings should be particularly cautious.

Northern Paper Wasp

As its name suggests, the Northern Paper Wasp creates nests out of paper-like material. These nests are often umbrella-shaped and can be found hanging from tree branches, eaves, or other horizontal structures. They're brownish with varying degrees of yellow and orange. Unlike other wasps, they are considered semi-social, with less complex colony structures. They mainly feed on caterpillars, converting them into a paste-like substance to feed their larvae.

Mud Wasp

Also known as Mud Daubers, these solitary wasps are recognized by their slender, thread-like waist. Their name comes from their unique nesting behavior: they build tubular nests from mud. These nests are often found on the sides of buildings, under eaves, or inside garages or sheds. Mud Wasps primarily feed on spiders, paralyzing them with their sting and placing them in their mud nests as a food source for their emerging larvae. Despite their menacing appearance, they are not particularly aggressive and rarely sting humans.

Ground Digger Wasp

These wasps, also known as the Great Black Wasp, have a shiny blue-black appearance and are found throughout the United States. They are solitary wasps and get their name from their behavior of digging nests in the ground. Female Ground Digger Wasps hunt katydids and grasshoppers, paralyze them with their sting, and then bury them in their underground nests as food for their larvae. These wasps are known to be beneficial for controlling pest populations, and they are not aggressive toward humans unless directly provoked.

Carpenter Bee

While Carpenter Bees are not wasps, they are often mistaken for them due to their size and appearance. These bees are large, with shiny, black, hairless abdomen, and are known for their wood-boring behavior. Female Carpenter Bees bore into wood, creating tunnels where they lay their eggs and provide a food stash of pollen and nectar for the emerging larvae. They can concern homeowners due to the damage they cause to wooden structures. Unlike male Carpenter Bees, which lack stingers, females can sting but are not aggressive and only do so when threatened.



Wasps can be found in diverse habitats:

  • Nests: They often build paper-like nests from chewed wood pulp, seen hanging from trees or under eaves. Some species burrow into the ground or use hollow logs.
  • Urban Areas: Many wasps, like the common yellowjacket, can be found in urban areas, especially close to human food sources.
  • Natural Habitats: Meadows, forests, and wetlands are home to various wasp species, each adapted to its environment.


Wasps have a varied diet:

  • Insects and Spiders: Many wasps are predators, hunting smaller insects and spiders to feed their larvae.
  • Nectar: Adult wasps often consume nectar from flowers, acting as pollinators.
  • Human Food: Some species, especially those in urban areas, are attracted to sugary foods and meats, so they’re often seen at picnics or barbecues.
Wasp 2

How to eliminate Wasps

Safeguarding your property from wasps requires a mix of preventive measures and active control:

  • Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect your property for nests. Early detection can make removal easier.
  • Seal Entry Points: Ensure that all openings in your home’s exterior, like vents or crevices, are sealed.
  • Avoid Attractants: Keep food sources, including pet food and open garbage cans, sealed and out of reach.
  • Professional Help: If a nest is discovered, seeking professional help is advised. Mint Pest Control offers eco-friendly and effective solutions for wasp-related issues.


Are all wasps aggressive?

Not all wasp species are aggressive. However, some, like yellowjackets, can be aggressive when provoked or when their nest is threatened.

Do wasps pollinate?

Yes, wasps pollinate, although they're less efficient than bees. They still play a role in pollinating certain plants.

Why are wasps attracted to my food?

Wasps are drawn to sugary foods and proteins, making our food, especially during outdoor events, enticing them.

How do I differentiate between a bee and a wasp?

Wasps generally have a more elongated body with a distinct narrow waist, while bees have a more robust and hairy appearance.

Do all wasps sting?

Only female wasps have stingers. While they can sting multiple times, not all species are prone to stinging unless threatened.

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