Wasps: What You Should Know

Wasps are insects closely related to bees. Originally they were only available in Europe, Asia, and North America. In the meantime, they have also been deported to South America and Australia.

All wasp species can be recognized by their distinctive black and yellow coloration. If you look closely, you can see that wasps are not just striped. The special patterns allow biology to distinguish the species more precisely since they are different in each species.

How do wasps live?

The queen is the only one to survive the winter. She starts building the nest in spring and lays her first eggs in the first cells. She has had the sperm for fertilization in her semen bags since last autumn. The queen eats insects, chews them to a pulp, and feeds them to the larvae. These then develop into workers, continue to build the nest, and take care of the larvae. A wasp colony consists of a few hundred to a few thousand animals.

A wasp nest consists of hexagonal honeycombs like those of bees. The wasps make it by chewing up small pieces of wood and mixing them into a pulp with their spit. They form the nest from this pulp, it dries and is then the same material as our paper. It’s also just as light and easy to mash. Wasps build their nests in hedges and trees, but also in attics or in the boxes of blinds and shutters.

Some larvae are fed better than others, from which the new queens develop. Males, called drones, develop from unfertilized eggs. They fly out and mate with a young queen, then die. In winter, the workers and the old queen also die. The young queens survive in hibernation. In the spring they start building their nests and lay their first eggs.

Adult wasps feed on nectar, pollen, and drupes. These are plums, peaches, and apricots. The young get meat from dead or captured animals. The biggest enemy of wasps is the honey buzzard. This bird digs up wasp nests with its feet and feeds the larvae to its own young. But other birds, spiders, and dragonflies also like to eat wasps.

Are wasps dangerous?

Wasps defend themselves with their stingers. It is enough that they feel restricted. This happens, for example, when they get under a piece of clothing. With their sting, they can stab again and again and inject poison into the skin of their victims. Then it burns tremendously.

The largest wasp species that occurs in our country is the hornet. It grows almost four centimeters long. Many people are afraid of hornets. There is an old rule that says, “Seven hornet bites will kill a horse, and two will kill a child.” This rule is a superstition and is not true. Hornet venom is no more dangerous than that of bees or other wasps.

One should behave quietly around wasps and not get too close to their nests. Then they don’t sting either. Wasps only sting when they feel threatened or when they want to defend their colony and queen.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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