19 Different Types Of Wasps You Need To Know

Wasps come in 19 different varieties

Wasps come in 19 different varieties

Emma Downey

Emma Downey
Gardening Expert

Updated on 12/8/2022

If you ever wonder how many species of wasps are there? let me tell you that there are approximately 4,000 different kinds of wasps in the United States alone, and there are tens of thousands more sorts of wasps in other parts of the globe. Although they may be mistaken for bees at a glance, these insects belong to an entirely different species. They are similar to bees in that they have a formidable stinger that they are not hesitant to deploy when necessary. This article provides a simple reference to identifying the most common varieties of wasps that may be found in the different states of the United States. Let's begin with the several types of wasps that may be identified by the social behaviors they engage in.

Wasps That Live Alone As Opposed To Social Wasps

Wasps that live alone as opposed to social wasps

Wasps that live alone as opposed to social wasps

Despite how odd it may seem, wasps are related to bees and share a species with ants and other insects that belong to the order Hymenoptera. You may read more about the differences between bees and wasps on this site. There are two primary categories of wasps: those that live alone in their nests and those that live in colonies with other wasps. A short overview of each of them is provided below.

Wasps That Live In Societies

Wasps that Live in Societies

Wasps that Live in Societies

Wasps are sociable insects, but this does not imply that they reside in big colonies—quite the contrary. A standard wasp nest may house no more than a dozen insects. The more enormous wasp nests may accommodate up to 10,000 people, far from the 50,000 workers found in a typical bee colony. The social wasps are members of the family Vespidae, which also contains the more aggressive hornets and yellow jackets. Yellow jackets are among the most dangerous forms of wasps.

Wasps That Live Alone

Wasps that live alone

Wasps that live alone

The great majority of wasps are of the solitary kind, and the vast majority of them feed on other insects. The following are the four leading families of solitary wasps:

  • Wasps, known as cuckoos, are members of the family Chrysididae
  • Wasps belong to the genus Tiphiidae and the family Tiphiidae.
  • Wasps belonging to the genus Scoliidae and the family Scoliidae
  • Wasps belonging to the family Mutillidae known as velvet wasps

In contrast to their more friendly cousins, solitary wasps don't form colonies and tend to feed on other insects rather than themselves.

All The Various Kinds And Varieties Of Wasps

Now, let's look at the most critical categories of wasps for you to learn about. If you have wasps in your yard, there is an ideal possibility that they belong to one of the varieties or breeds described in the following paragraphs.

1. Honeybees And Wasps

Wasps, known as "Yellow Jackets," are the most frequent kind found in the United States and one of the most aggressive types. Sixteen different yellow jacket wasps may be found in the United States. The majority of these wasps have patterns of gold and black, but a few are white instead of yellow, and some of them also have red markings on their bodies. The majority are the same size as conventional bees, but they have less hair than their counterparts. They range in length from 3/8 inch to 5/8 inch in some instances.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow Jackets

2. Paper Wasps From The North

They get their name from the substance often used to construct their nests, a mixture of wood pulp that has been regurgitated and saliva. These kinds of nests are often seen hanging from the branches of trees. They have a brownish rather than a black body, and their markings are yellow or reddish. Because of their vast legs, it is simple to distinguish them from bees and yellow jackets. Northern paper wasps may be found across the states that make up the Midwest.

Paper Wasps from the North

Paper Wasps from the North

3. A Dauber For The Mud

Mud daubers are solitary wasps with slender bodies and are often marked with yellow coloration on their wings and bodies. They get their name because they construct their nests out of the mud they live in. They often excavate parallel tunnels measuring one inch in width and then lay one egg in each of those tunnels. Nests of mud daubers may be discovered in various locations, including beneath porch ceilings and eaves and in garages, barns, and sheds.

A Dauber for the Mud

A Dauber for the Mud

4. The European Hornet (Hornet)

This particular wasp species first arrived in the United States in the late 1800s and may now be found across the Eastern states. They construct papery nests below porches or in the hollows of trees, and a colony may include anywhere from 200 to 400 mature wasps. They are huge, menacing insects with blackheads and sometimes red patterns on their bodies. The characteristic mark of black and yellow may be seen on their abdomens. They are defense animals and won't attack unless they feel threatened, even though they have a frightening appearance.

 The European Hornet (Hornet)

The European Hornet (Hornet)

5. Hornet With A Veiled Face

The body of a bald-faced hornet is stocky and often black and white. The tops of their heads and the upper regions of their bodies are dark in color. They have a very high level of aggression and may sting many times if they believe that their nest is under threat. Nests of bald-faced hornets are often found connected to lower branches of trees or shrubs, and they may also be seen hanging from the eaves of buildings.

Bald-faced Hornet

Bald-faced Hornet

6. Wasp With Blue-Flanked Wings

Do not go about hunting for a winged bug that is blue in color and flies. The reality is that this species has blue-black wings, but the blue hue is so faint that it is almost impossible to discern. On the other hand, you'll be able to recognize them thanks to their orange bellies and their vivid yellow markings close to the waist. They are incredibly effective at controlling pests, particularly the Japanese beetle, which eats through flower petals and may completely devastate a garden if left unchecked.

Wasp with Blue-Flanked Wings

Wasp with Blue-Flanked Wings

7. Wasp With A Thread-Waisted Body

Their waists are extraordinarily narrow, especially for wasps, which is how they received their name. They also have pretty long legs. They are dark brownish in hue and have bloated abdomens that are either red or orange. These wasps have long, slender legs to grasp onto the plant they feed on. They usually make their homes in mud nests and ambush their prey, which consists of relatively tiny insects, before injecting their venom to render the mark immobile and laying their eggs inside the victim's body.

Wasp with a Thread-Waisted Body

Wasp with a Thread-Waisted Body

8. The Wasp That Kills Cows

This particular wasp is a solitary parasitic species that deposits its eggs in the nests of bumblebee colonies. It is also known as the Eastern Velvet ant. There are no wings on the females of this species, and it is reported that their sting is powerful enough to kill a cow.

The Wasp That Kills Cows

The Wasp That Kills Cows

9. Paper Wasp Of The European Continent

This particular species of paper wasp is not indigenous to the United States. Wasps of the European Paper kind generally have stripes of black and yellow, which makes it simple to mistake them for yellow jackets. In comparison to Northern Paper wasps, these wasps are much smaller. Because the worker wasps feed the larvae of the European paper wasps caterpillars, cabbage worms, and hornworms, these wasps are excellent at controlling pests.

Paper Wasp Of The European Continent

Paper Wasp Of The European Continent

10. A Jacket In The German Yellow Color

They have the same pattern of black and yellow stripes as regular yellow jackets, but you can tell them apart by the spade-shaped black spots on their abdomens. They seem highly similar to the typical yellow jacket.

 A Jacket In The German Yellow Color

A Jacket In The German Yellow Color

11. Arachnid And A Wasp

The name gives away all you need to know, and it's just as apparent as the unlucky spider that they assault and immobilize with their poison. Spider wasps may be identified by their unusual coloration, consisting of black bodies with legs that are either bright orange or reddish legs. The mud jugs that mud dauber wasps leave behind are often where they establish their homes. These wasps have the strength to carry a spider back to their nest, where they will deposit eggs close to the dead body. These eggs will nourish the larvae after they hatch out of their cocoons.

Arachnid and a wasp

Arachnid and a wasp

12. The Wasp That Eats Cicadas

Wasps of this species feed almost exclusively on cicadas, as their name suggests, and they pose little danger to people. They have black bodies with yellow patterns on them, and they may sometimes be seen working together to make a nest, which might be mistaken for the burrow of a tiny animal. They pursue and ambush cicadas while flying, sting them to the point of paralysis, and then bring the cicadas' dead carcasses back to their nests so that the larvae may feast on them. Adult cicada killer wasps do not eat their victim; nevertheless, they are drawn to the nectar of flowers. Thus it is not surprising to see them in gardens.

The Wasp That Eats Cicadas

The Wasp That Eats Cicadas

13. Southern Yellow Jackets (Also Known As SYJs)

These wasps have a bold and recognizable pattern of black and yellow on their bodies. They are not only hostile against people but also hostile toward other species of yellow jackets, and they will not hesitate to enter the nests of yellow jackets of inferior species. Once they have a place to call their own, they will fiercely protect it. They can launch many attacks with their spade-shaped stinger before succumbing to their wounds.

Southern Yellow Jackets (also known as SYJs)

Southern Yellow Jackets (also known as SYJs)

14. Braconid Wasps (Braconidae)

Because of their small size, these wasps are sometimes confused for flies. They have red bodies, but their heads are black. Their legs, antennae, and wings are all colored black as well. Wasps belonging to the genus Braconid have a long needle that appears like a stinger but isn't one. They can successfully hide their eggs deep behind holes in trees, where they are safe from being eaten by other animals.

 Braconid Wasps (Braconidae)

Braconid Wasps (Braconidae)

15. Wasps Of The Potter Genus

As they are solitary insects whose primary occupation consists of eliminating caterpillars, their presence in your garden may be advantageous. They have a yellow stripe above the thorax and another one on the abdomen, but most of their body is black. They do not bother to construct nests and instead prefer to use ones that have been abandoned. Once they have located a new dwelling, the females will begin the reproduction process by hunting down a caterpillar, rendering it helpless, and bringing it back to the nest to deposit her eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will consume the caterpillar for food until they have grown to a size where they can fly.

Wasps of the Potter Genus

Wasps of the Potter Genus

16. Cuckoo Wasps

The body of this particular wasp species has a striking metallic green hue, making it simple to recognize; in contrast, the wasp's wings and legs are black. They are relatively minor, and their name comes from the fact that they are known to deposit their eggs in the hives of other species of bees. As a species, they are not very hostile, and their stingers are not particularly powerful. When a cuckoo wasp senses that it is being surrounded, it will curl up and pray for the best instead of attacking frantically as other types of wasps do.

Cuckoo Wasps

Cuckoo Wasps

17. Wasp With Four Teeth, A Four Toothed Mason Wasp

The name comes from the projecting mouthpieces that mimic teeth and are pretty similar to those of the Bald-faced wasp, with which it has many similarities. Compared to other kinds of wasps, they have relatively tiny bodies that are entirely hairless and black. They are simple to identify because of the white marks on their backs. These wasps are on the lookout for moths and caterpillars so that they may feed their young.

Wasp With Four Teeth, a Four-Toothed Mason

Wasp With Four Teeth, a Four-Toothed Mason

18. Wasp Of The Great Black Race

These wasps are members of the broader family of digger wasps, and the majority of them dwell in caves. They are distinguishable from other species of wasps by their bigger size and glossy, jet-black bodies with a blue tint. They may seem deadly, yet in reality, they only attack people very seldom. They are unique among wasps in that, in addition to their role as excellent pest controllers, they also do some pollination activities while they are eating.

Wasp Of The Great Black Race

Wasp Of The Great Black Race

19. Wasp With A Horntail

Insects with a body that is almost all black and wings are a brownish color. The females of the species have a syringe-like appendage that gives the appearance of a terrifying stinger; however, the females use this appendage to deposit their eggs. It is common practice to inject the eggs deep through the trunks of trees, where the developing larvae will stay until they mature into adults.

Wasp With A Horntail

Wasp With A Horntail

Wasps Of Various Types Found In The Several States

The kind of temperature that prevails in your region has a significant role in determining the types of wasps that are most prevalent there. Some insects flourish in cool, temperate climates, while others are best in hot, humid environments.

Wasps Are Common In Florida

  • Wasp that Kills Cicadas
  • Wasp of Paper
  • Yellowjackets are found in the South.

There Are Wasps In Texas

  • Wasps made of paper
  • Wasp that Kills Cicadas
  • Wasp with a Large Black and Hairy Body

Wasps in Texas

Wasps in Texas

Wasps In The State Of California

  • Bald-faced Hornet
  • Wasps made of paper
  • Toilers in the muck
  • Hornets with Yellow Heads

Wasps In The State Of Michigan

  • The paper wasp
  • Hornets with yellow heads
  • Hornets with bald heads

Wasps in Michigan

Wasps in Michigan

Wasps In The State Of Virginia

  • Bald-faced Hornet
  • The paper wasp
  • A jacket in yellow
  • European Hornet (Hornet)
  • The mud dauber

Wasps In The City Of New York

  • Hornet with a bald head
  • Wasp with blue-tipped wings
  • Waisted Wasp with a Common Thread
  • Wasps That Kill Cows
  • Termite Spider Wasp
  • Wasp of the pottery

Wasps in the city of New York

Wasps in the city of New York

In North Carolina, There Are Wasps

  • Paper wasp native to Europe
  • Wasp of the Cuckoo
  • Wasp of the Mason Order with Four Teeth
  • Yellowjacket of the Germans

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A Guide To Recognizing A Wasp

It is hard to distinguish distinct species of wasps apart just on size since there are so many different kinds flying about. Some of them are pretty little, measuring less than half an inch. In contrast, others are relatively massive and terrifying, such as the Asian giant hornet, which can grow to a length of 1.6 inches and whose queen is even more significant than the adult males. Wasps and bees may be distinguished by examining their noticeable morphological and behavioral differences.

Wasp

Wasp

Waist

In contrast to bees, most wasp species have a narrow waistline, and this is because a wasp's abdomen narrows as it moves upward toward its head portion, joining the thorax. The only exception to the rule is that hornets do not have a narrow waist, and therefore it is conceivable that individuals might confuse them with bees.

Waist

Waist

Hair

Most wasps have fewer hairs than bees because, unlike bees, they are not mainly used as pollinators. Bees utilize the hairs on their bodies to gather pollen, stored in little baskets linked to their legs as the bees move from one bloom to another. For the most part, Wasps do not bother collecting pollen, and as a result, they do not need tiny hairs.

Hair

Hair

Wasps Should Not Be Trifled With At Any Cost

Wasps are typically less harmful than bees and will generally avoid people, provided the latter does not bother them. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. Yellow jacket wasps and hornets are the two kinds among the hundreds of types of wasps that may be found in the United States that are most likely to come into contact with humans. An essential thing to keep in mind is maintaining a safe distance from a wasp nest. Identifying the specific species of a wasp may be a piece of exciting information. Still, it won't be of much use since wasps, in general, are pretty protective about their nests.

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Frequently Asked Questions