17 Types of Wasps and How to Identify Them (Pictures and Names) (2023)

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Wasps are small flying insects that usually have an identifiable black body with yellow bands. Typically, wasps have a slender, elegant body with a narrow waist, a pair of webbed wings, and six slender legs. Many wasp species look like bees, and both wasps and bees are important pollinators that can deliver a painful sting.

Identifying wasp species is important because some wasps are more dangerous than others. For example, the bald wasp (Dolichovespula maculata) is a black and white wasp that can swarm to defend a nest. Likewise, the yellow coats (painted scooter) tend to be aggressive wasps that sting without being provoked. In contrast, the black and yellow paper wasp (the cop) is relatively docile and harmless.

This article is a guide to identifying common wasp species. Descriptions and photos of different wasp species will help you identify these slender flying insects as they buzz from flower to flower in your garden.

How to recognize wasps

Wasps can be identified by their shape, size, color and habits. Most wasp species have smooth, slender bodies, making them easily distinguishable from bees. The easily recognizable feature of wasps is their thin waist between the thorax and abdomen. Wasps are usually yellow and black. However, some species are black, red or brown.

Other identifiable features of wasps are their six skinny legs. Depending on the species, wasp feet can be black, orange or yellow. Also, many wasps have bicolored legs, which is another way to identify a specific species.

Wasps vs Hornets

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Wasp (left) and wasp (right) size comparison

waspsare a species of wasps that vary in size and color. Typically, wasps are giant hornets that can be 3.8 cm (1.6 in) long, compared to a typical wasp being 1 cm (0.4 in) long or smaller. Also, wasps tend to have black bodies and white rings, while wasps are usually yellow and black.

Although wasps and hornets have a reputation for being aggressive, some species of wasps are more aggressive than hornets. For example, a European wasp can inject a powerful sting. But it usually only attacks to defend the nest. On the other hand, some species of wasps can sting without warning.

wasps against bees

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Close-ups of a bee (left) and a wasp (right)

The main differences between bees and wasps are their body shape and appearance.Bees usually have a fuzzy bodywhich is barrel-shaped rather than slender. Bees, for example, don't have a remarkably thin waist like wasps.

facts about wasps

Wasps are winged flying insects in the orderHymenopteraand are related to bees and ants. Wasps range in size from the tiny chalcids, measuring 0.005 inches (0.139 mm) in size, to the giant female cicada killer wasp, which can be 2 inches (5 cm) long. In general, wasps are solitary, although some species are social creatures that nest together.

Although wasps are known for their aggressiveness, they are crucial insects in many ecosystems. For example, some wasp species help pollinate various plant species. Some wasp species store pollen and nectar in their bodies. In addition, fig wasps (Agaonidae) are crucial for the pollination of figs.

Some species of parasitic and predatory wasps can help reduce the number of common garden pests. By promoting parasitic wasps, for example, you can help reduce caterpillar populations and their numbers.Ants in your gardenfeeding on larvae.

Types of wasps and how to identify them (photos)

Let's take a look at how to identify different types of wasps. You'll learn about everything from common wasps that tend to annoy people in the summer to smaller, harmless wasps that look like flies or ants.

paper wasps (the cop)

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There are many types of paper wasps, each with a different appearance.

Paper wasps are a group of wasps that typically have thin black or dark brown bodies and yellow bands. Paper wasps can be recognized by their thin waist, orange-tipped antennae, and long brownish wings. Also, unlike wasps, paper wasps swing their long legs when they fly.

There are about 300 species of paper wasps in North America. Black or brown wasps are also known as umbrella wasps because of the shape of their paper nests.

Paper wasps get their name from their habit of building paper nests. Wasps chew on plant or wood fibers to create a thin, paper-like substance in which to nest. Paper wasp nests are usually found in protected areas in attics, hanging from tree branches or under eaves.

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paper wasp nest

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Like most wasps, paper wasps have a stinger that can deliver a painful and uncomfortable sting. Paper wasps tend to sting when the nest is threatened. The bite becomes red and swollen and can cause a severe allergic reaction in some people.

Wasp Identification:Identify paper wasps by their slender brown or black body, yellow markings, thin waist, and long, dangling legs when they fly. Paper wasps are 2-3 cm long.

Northern paper wasp (brown police)

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northern paper wasp

the north sheetWasp is dark brownor black wasp with thin yellow bands, brownish wings, characteristic slender abdomen and thin waist. You'll also notice bright red spots on the wasp's abdomen, which help identify the species. Depending on the habitat, wasps can have black bodies without markings.

Northern paper wasps are common in the eastern half of North America,from Floridain the south to British Columbia in the north.

Wasp Identification:The northern paper wasp is a slender, dark brown wasp with yellow bands and red spots on the abdomen. Wasps are 1.5 to 2 cm long.

European paper wasp (Polistes Dominula)

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European paper wasp (Polistes dominula)

The European paper wasp is a social wasp with a black thorax mottled with yellow, a black and yellow abdomen, orange antennae, and orange and yellow legs. This species of paper wasp is one of the most common in the US and also one of the most aggressive paper wasps.

The paper wasp builds its paper nests in the spring, where the queen lays eggs and cares for her brood.

Wasp Identification:European paper wasps have black and yellow bodies, orange antennae and wings. Wasps measure between 0.3" and 0.5" (0.8 - 1.2 cm).

Black and yellow paper wasp (Polistes Comanchus)

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Black and yellow paper wasp (Polistes comanchus)

The aptly named black and yellow paper wasp has a black thorax and bright yellow abdomen. Like all paper wasps, this species,Polistes comanchus, has a narrow waist between the belly and chest and dark wings. Black and yellow paper wasps are found in the southern United States.

Wasp Identification:The black and yellow paper wasp can be identified by its black thorax, orange antennae, and yellow-orange abdomen with thin brown bands.

Yellow paper wasp (Polistes flavus)

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Yellow paper wasp (Polistes flavus)

The yellow paper wasp is a large, brightly colored wasp with an orange-yellow thorax, yellow abdomen, yellow legs, and brown wings. The wasp's bright yellow color is its main distinguishing feature. the yellowWasps are commonly found in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Wasp Identification:The yellow wasp is easy to spot because of its yellow color and its orange and brown spots. The large yellow wasps grow up to 3 cm in length.

Waste Paper from Guinea (yell at the police)

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Guinea paper wasp (police call)

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The Guinea paper wasp is an orange-brown and yellow wasp with a striped abdomen and a black marking on the thorax. This species of paper wasp has the distinguishing features of paper wasps - a slender body, a thin abdomen and a flat triangular face. Guinea paper wasps vary in color depending on their habitat.

An identifiable feature of the Guinea paper wasp is its banded antennae in orange, yellow, and black. Most paper wasp species have antennae of only one color.

Wasp Identification:You can recognize the Guinea paper wasp by its slender yellow and orange-brown abdomen and colorful antennae with yellow tips. Wasps have a wingspan of 1.3 to 1.6 cm.

Red paper wasp (Carolina)

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Rote Papierwespe (Polistes carolina)

As the common name suggests, theCarolinaIt is a red wasp with black wings and red antennae. Despite stinging, the red paper wasp is not classified as an aggressive wasp. Instead, it tends to build its oval paper nests close to human habitation, such as under eaves or overhangs.

Red paper wasps are stinging wasps, but only females have a stinger. Wasps generally do not attack humans, but sting to defend the nest.

Wasp Identification:The red wasp is easily recognized by its reddish-brown body, absence of belly bands, and black wings. Red wasps are 2.5 to 3.2 cm long.

yellow jackets (Vespula spp.)

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oriental yellow jacket(spotted scooter)

Yellowjackets are a species of common wasp with black bodies and orange-yellow bands. Oriental Yellow Vests (painted scooter) are thetypical black and yellow waspswhich often become a pest in gardens. Of all wasp species, hornets are the most commonly confused with bees.

Yellowjackets have smooth bodies that distinguish them from bees. Also, wasps have a thinner abdomen and smaller size than bees or bumblebees.

Yellowjackets are similar to some species of wasps. However, compared to the size of giant hornets, hornets are relatively small.

Yellowjackets nest in tree cavities, holes in the ground, or cracks or crevices.

Wasp Identification:The Yellowjacket is identified by its black and yellow striped body, black antennae, and orange or yellow legs. Yellowjackets are approximately 1.2 cm long.

Bald Wasp (Dolichovespula maculata)

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Bald Wasp (Dolichovespula maculata)

The bald wasp is a black and white wasp with black antennae, a flat black face with a white band, and black and white legs. Despite its common name, this black wasp is not a true wasp of its kind.Vespa. Rather, despite its black coloration, the bald wasp is a type of wasp.

Other names for the bald wasp include the white-faced wasp, white-tailed wasp, yellow bald wasp, and bald wasp. Black and white wasps are found throughout North America. "Wasps" can become aggressive if the nest is threatened.

Bald wasps build large paper nests containing between 400 and 700 wasps. Hanging paper nests are often found high in trees, under eaves or in wall cavities. Wasp nests consist of layered hexagonal ridges covered with a papery gray substance.

Wasp Identification:Identify the bald wasp by its smooth black body, white facial markings, and three distinct white stripes at the tail end of its abdomen. Bald wasps are 2 to 2.5 cm long.

giant parasitic wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)

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Riesenschlupfwespe (Megarhyssa macrurus)

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The giant parasitic wasp is known as the "long-tailed wasp". This brown wasp has a slender body with yellow and black spots that give it a colorful appearance. The giant slipper's identifying feature is its tail, or ovipositor. This tail-like projection is the same length as the wasp.

The giant Ichneumon looks menacing because its tail looks like a spike. However, the long tail of this wasp does not contain venom, but is used by females to lay eggs under the bark of trees.

Wasp Identification:The giant long-tailed parasitic wasp can be identified by its tail, which can be over 5 cm long. Wasps are over 13 cm long including the ovipositor. The male wasps of the species measure 5 cm, as they do not have a tail.

wall wasps (Eumenidae)

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Mauerwespen (Eumenidae)

Mason wasps are a type of black wasp with yellow bands on the abdomen. Also known as the potter's wasp, the black wasp species contains color variations including yellow, orange, red, or white spots. Also, some black mason wasps have bright metallic green or blue colors.

Potter wasps and mason wasps get their names from their unusual nest-building habits. The small, slender, striped insects build clay nests that look like ceramic vases.

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Mason Wespennest

Wasp Identification:Mason wasps can be identified by their smooth black or brown body with several brightly colored bands around the abdomen. Ceramic nests are another way to identify the presence of potter wasps.

Black and yellow mud wasp (Sceliphron caementarium)

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Mud spotted wasp (Sceliphron cairentarium)

The Black and Yellow Mudbrush is a black wasp with yellow legs and an identifiable long thin waist that connects its chest and abdomen. The mud wasp has a black thorax with yellow spots. The long petiole (waist) is typically black, but can also be yellow. The long wings are dark fawn in color.

The common name for this wasp comes from its habit of building mud nests.

Wasp Identification:The black and yellow mud patch is easily recognized by its black body, yellow legs, and thin petiole connecting the abdomen and breast. Wasps are 2.4 to 2.8 cm long.

Vespa Scoliid de asas azuis (dubious schools)

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Blauflügel-Scoliid-Waspe (Scolia dubia)

The blue-winged scoliid wasp is a large black and red wasp with two bright yellow spots on its colorful abdomen. Another distinguishing feature of the wasp is its iridescent blue wings, which appear almost black.

Blue-winged wasps are excellent parasitic wasps for controlling beetle populations. The female wasp burrows into the ground to lay eggs in the larvae.June bug(bright cotins) ejapanese beetles(Popillia japonica).

Wasp Identification:The easily identifiable blue-winged scoliid wasp has dark blue wings, a black head and thorax, and a black and red abdomen with two yellow spots. Adult wasps are up to 2.5 cm long.

Sam Ant Oriental (Dasymutilla occidentalis)

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Eastern Sam Ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis)

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The eastern Sam ant is a hairy red and black parasitic wasp that looks like an ant. Female wingless wasps have a red abdomen with an identifiable black stripe down the middle. Male eastern ant wasps are similar in coloration but can fly and have black wings.

Oriental velvet ants can deliver a nasty sting. This gives the red and black stinging wasp the name "cow killer".

Wasp Identification:The eastern Sam Ant is easily identified by its scaly red thorax and abdomen with a black stripe across it. The ant-like wasp has black, spiny legs and two black antennae. The wasp is 1.9 cm long.

Spinnenwespe (Pompilidae)

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Spinnenwespe (Anoplius nigerrimus)

The spider wasp is a large family of pompyllid wasps with black or dark blue bodies, large heads, and fuzzy black abdomens. Most wasps inPompilidaeThe family has long, spiky legs and fine hair covering the abdomen and hind legs. Some spider wasps have yellow, white, red, or orange spots.

Spider wasps are among the largest wasps, with some species exceeding 5 cm in length.

Wasp Identification:Spider wasps are usually identified by their dark, slender bodies, transparent black wings, and long, spiny legs. A common identifying feature of spider wasps is the grooves on their bodies.

Zikaden-Killerwespe (More specifically)

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Assassinus de Cigarras Orientalis (Sphecius speciosus) com um Zikade

The eastern cicada killer wasp (prettier) is a land wasp found in North America. The black or brown wasp has yellow bands on its abdomen, black antennae and transparent brown wings. Large wasps are easily confused with wasps or hornets. Brown and yellow wasps grow up to 5 cm in length.

Cicada killer hornets are among the largest hornets in North America.

Wasp Identification:To identify a cicada killer wasp, look for its plump body, black or reddish-brown abdomen with yellow bands, and dark thorax with reddish markings.

Fadenwespen (Amophila procera)

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Fadenwespe (Ammophila procera)

The slender slim-waisted wasp is a black wasp with a long waist where the abdomen and chest are attached. The fine wasp has a black bulbous head, black antennae, and a black abdomen with an orange-red band. These wasps hunt their victims by injecting venom with their stingers and driving the insects back to the nest.

Wasp Identification:Filamentous wasps have a recognizably narrow waist, a bloated abdomen with orange bands, and long, thin legs. Wasps are up to 2.5 cm long.

Related articles:

  • Types of wasps: nest, size, color - identification
  • Bee Species - Identification Guide
  • Insects that look like bees

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