What Do Wasps Eat, Western Exterminator

What do wasps eat?

A wasp’s diet varies between species. In most instances, wasps feed their larvae bits of insects that they have killed and chopped up, but the adults feed on sugars from nectar, aphid honeydew or a sugary liquid produced by their larvae. Most species of wasp are actually parasitic insects, which means they lay their eggs inside other insects and they rarely bother us humans. The wasps that you see most often are the social wasps that come searching for human food.

Wasps are beneficial to ecosystems because they control insect populations, but feared by humans because of their powerful sting. This is why homeowners are concerned about wasp control when they see wasps around their home or garden or spot a wasp nest. Knowing what wasps like to eat is a great way to prevent wasps in the first place.

Wasp diet preferences

In general, wasps eat —

But, bald-faced hornets for example, only consume fruit juices and nectar. On the other hand, yellow jackets will consume “human food” and are often found swarming around garbage cans. Sometimes wasps can even make their way into a bee’s nest and steal honey!

Do wasps eat spiders?

The mud dauber wasp is a common predator of the spider in North America. Rather than eating the spider, the mud dauber wasp stings it, paralyzes it and places the corpse in a mud cell in the wasp nest. The larva will then feed on the spider.

Do wasps eat mosquitoes?

Unfortunately, wasps are not a common predator of the mosquito. Wasps are more commonly known for controlling spider and caterpillar populations.

Do wasps eat wood?

Yes! Paper wasps chew wood pulp to help create their paper-like nests. If you have wooden structures on your property, like your home, make sure you have a wasp control plan to protect your property.

Do wasps eat meat?

Yellow jackets are commonly known for feeding on human food, like meats, and on other insects and spiders.

What animals eat wasps?

The wasp is a predator for many insects but that doesn’t mean other animals don’t eat wasps. Some natural predators of wasps include:

Wasp prevention tips

If you’re eating or drinking outdoors, a great way to prevent wasps is by not leaving food unattended or leaving it covered in an airtight container. Other useful tips to preventing wasp infestations include:

  • Remove wasp nests
  • Shut windows and doors to prevent wasps from entering your home
  • Ensure garbage bins have tight lids
  • Schedule a wasp inspection appointment

Western Exterminator wasp control

Your local Western Exterminator pest specialist will devise a comprehensive wasp control plan to keep wasps away from your home and family. We also provide wasp nest removal services so you don’t have to worry about how to get rid of a wasp nest.

Contact us online to learn more about our wasp control services or give us a call at 888-674-0921.

We have offices across the West Coast states, not just in the major cities. You can find our local pest control specialists in places such as Seattle, Apple Valley, Boise, Chino, Ontario CA, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Santa Fe Springs, Scottsdale, Temecula, Thousand Oaks and Yorba Linda. Just enter your zip code below to find our nearest office to you.


What do wasps eat

Wasps are broadly described in the animal kingdom as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and the suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. Most wasps are parasitic – that is, they use their ovipositor (stinger) to lay eggs in a host’s body. There are two types of wasps, solitary and social. Solitary wasps, as the term implies, live a solitary life without the company of other wasps. They do not build their own nests either and they are all fertile. Social wasps, on the other hand, can live in colonies of thousands, they build their own nests and the females (other than the queen) are almost always unable to reproduce.

Generally speaking, the characteristics of a wasp include; two pairs of wings, a stinger, very few or no thickened hair (as you may notice on bees), a pair of talons. Wasps are almost always terrestrial apart from a few species and they prey on terrestrial insects.

What do wasps eat

A wasps’ diet varies amongst species, generally speaking a wasps larvae will almost always get its first meal from within a host insect. As previously mentioned many wasps are parasitic insects and will lay their eggs inside other insects. Only when they are adults do wasps feed on nectar. Most social wasps are omnivores, eating both plants and other animals. They often eat fruit, nectar and carrion, some wasps will even scavenge for dead insects to feed to their offspring. The larvae of social wasps also provide a sweet secretion for the adults to consume. What do other wasps eat? Wasps such as the Bald-faced Hornet only consume nectar and fruit juice. Yellow Jackets, on the other hand, will eat just about all ‘human food’. Since wasps enjoy sweet food they often invade honey bee nests to steal the honey and sometimes the bee larvae. As a result of this sweet tooth it is imperative to ensure that sweet drinks, especially in cans, are not left unattended outside – otherwise you may run the risk of swallowing one!

(By PiccoloNamek at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons)

Again, because there is so much variety in wasp species, their habit is also diverse. Having said that, wasps will generally stay in the one place for a few seasons and then almost always move on to another location. Most social wasps prefer to use vegetation to their advantage when building their nests. Baldfaced hornets will build huge nests hanging from trees. The European Hornet prefers a more protected environment and will often build nests in the hollows of trees or buildings. Yellow Jackets love human company – they benefit from the garbage provided by humans, as such, they tend to build their nests around human inhabited areas so long as it is cool and dark.

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(By Bombman356 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

How do wasps mate

The reproduction cycle of the wasp is fairly simple. A young queen (fertile female) will mate with a male drone (fertile male) – sperm is stored inside the queen for future use. After mating the male dies off and at the end of the season so does the wasp colony. The young female will then find a place to hibernate for the winter. Once the hibernation period is over the queen finds a suitable nesting site and will begin to lay her eggs. Since the queen has a stockpile of sperm stored away she is able to build an entire colony on her own. The queen will tend to her young until there are enough worker wasps to take over. All of the young produced early in the cycle are sterile female workers who will continue to build the nest as the colony grows. As the sperm begins to run out later on in the cycle, the queen will begin to produce fertile male drones and fertile female queens. To ensure genetic variation the male drones will usually fly away from the nest to spread their seed, while the young female queens remain close to the nest.

Wasps are more dangerous than bees

Wasps can be very aggressive insects, unlike bees; their stingers do not break off. As a result, they can sting repeatedly. The stingers also contain venom resulting in painful, itching skin and swelling for up to twenty-four hours. Some people may be allergic to wasp venom so it is important to take precautions when they are around to avoid injury.


What Do Wasps Eat? Are They Beneficial for Your Garden?

Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.

Do you find yourself running for cover when a wasp starts buzzing around your head or do you find yourself fascinated by them?

Have you ever wondered what do wasps eat and draws them to your space?

Whether you’re curious about how to keep them away from your home, or if you’d like to know more about them in general, I have you covered.

I’m going to walk you through what a wasp eats and hopefully, this will either help you keep them away from you or give you a greater understanding of how wasps can be beneficial creatures around your homestead.

Here’s what you need to know about wasps:

What Do Wasps Eat?

Wasps aren’t finicky creatures. They eat a little bit of everything. Here are their favorite items to dine on:

1. Bugs

Wasps eat a variety of different bugs. There are many types of wasps, but most are carnivorous creatures.

Therefore, they’ll eat spiders, caterpillars, ants, bees, flies, beetles, crickets, aphids, grasshoppers, cicadas, whiteflies, and sugar cane borers.

It’s common in some parts of the world for farmers to release wasps in their crops to eat the pests which threaten to eat their crops.

Though you must watch for them to avoid unwanted stings, wasps can be beneficial bugs for your garden.

2. Honeydew and We Aren’t Talking About the Melon

When I first heard wasps ate honeydew, I thought, “Oh, like the melon!” Boy was I wrong. Honeydew develops when an aphid or other insect drain the sap from a tree or plant.

As they process it, the left-over sap will sometimes hang from the backside of the insect. It looks like a small drop of dew.

This is referred to as honeydew, and the wasps will drink it from the hindquarters of other bugs to keep themselves fed.

It may sound gross, but it keeps the bugs from dripping it elsewhere which would become a sticky mess for plants in your garden and ultimately draw more bugs.

3. Human Food

We love the foods we eat. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, wasps enjoy our food too. If you see a wasp hanging around your picnic or compost pile, chances are they want to dine on what you’re eating.

If you want to attract wasps to your property, leave your compost pile accessible or set out scraps. If you want to avoid wasps, make sure your food sources are locked down tightly.

4. Fruit and Nectar

As with most insects, wasps enjoy the sweetness of fruit and nectar. If you have an orchard or a single fruit tree in your yard, the fruit will attract them.

We have to dodge wasps constantly when picking blackberries because they love them as much as we do.

If you have rotting fruit left on the ground, they’ll be attracted to this as well.

5. Honey

We raise honeybees. They’re fascinating little creatures, but you must watch their hives closely. If the bees become too productive, they’ll require a split before they swarm.

However, if the hive becomes weak, it’s susceptible to being attacked and robbed of their honey. You guessed it; wasps enjoy honeybees’ honey too.

If you’re eating something with honey in range of a wasp, or if you raise bees, you’ll most likely have wasps hanging around you or your yard.

6. Plants

Wasps are beneficial to plants. It isn’t common knowledge, but wasps are amazing pollinators. If you want your garden and flower beds to do well, you want wasps to visit your yard.

If you’d like to draw wasps, try planting a pollinator garden and incorporate a few of their favorite plant varieties. They enjoy spearmint, sweet fennel, and Queen Anne’s Lace.

How Do Wasps Benefit a Garden?

Wasps have a bad wrap because their stings hurt. However, they serve a couple of useful purposes around your land.

If you’re an avid gardener, wasps are your friends. As they fly around feeding on your plants, they also help with pollination.

Wasps are good for more than pollinating, though. They also rid your plants of insects which harm your garden.

Because wasps are carnivorous, they eat many of the insects which do the greatest damage to your garden.

Are They Eating, Laying, or Feeding?

Wasps are interesting creatures. You may not have realized this because most of us try to keep our distance.

When you see a wasp flying around your garden, gathering food, you may not know what’s going on. I want to share a few interesting facts about wasps to spike your curiosity and increase your appreciation for these creatures too.

To begin, wasps don’t eat every insect they catch. Some they will choose to lay their eggs inside. The chosen insect becomes a host insect.

When wasps eat their prey, they paralyze them stopping their ability to fight back. Sometimes wasps will eat them, other times the wasps will place their eggs inside them.

As the eggs hatch, the larvae will remain safe inside the insect’s carcass. When the larvae grow into wasps, they’ll eat the insect they’ve been living inside of.

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But what do they do for food while still in the larval state? Wasps don’t lay eggs and abandon them. Instead, the parent wasps will hunt insects, paralyze them, rip them apart, and drop the remains inside the host insect to allow the larvae to feed.

When you see a wasp flying around your area carrying food, you don’t know if it’s for their own sustenance, to lay their eggs inside, or to feed the young which have already hatched.

Hopefully, this information will give you a greater understanding of wasps. They do serve a useful purpose, but you may still wish to avoid them.

Take away their food source, and they’ll have less of a reason to hang around your homestead.

However, if you choose to embrace wasps, you may want to plant items which draw them in. This will allow the wasps to work for your property while you gain interesting insight about their ways… from a distance, of course.

Nature is quite fascinating. The more we study it and wonder what do wasps eat, the more amazed we should become by it.


What do wasps do?

Wasps have generally earned themselves a bad reputation. But despite their occasional aggression, these insects play an important role in the ecosystem.

There are over 7,000 wasp species living in the UK, comprising a huge variety of solitary and social species. The majority are parasitoids, which have young that eat insects or spiders alive. However, the most commonly seen wasps are the black and yellow social species.

Colonies of social wasps are considered annoying pests — they often nest in manmade structures and deal out painful stings if you get too close. Yet despite our grievances, the ecosystem actually relies on these underappreciated insects.

So what are the benefits of wasps?

Natural pest control

Wasps are probably best known for disrupting summer picnics, but they are actually very important in keeping the ecosystem balanced.

Without wasps, the world could be overrun with spiders and insects. Each summer, social wasps in the UK capture an estimated 14 million kilogrammes of insect prey, such as caterpillars and greenfly. Perhaps we should be calling them a gardener’s friend.

A common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) feeds on a pear. Adult wasps only feed on sugars, but hunt other invertebrates to feed to their offspring. В© Aiwok via Wikimedia commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Dr Gavin Broad, a wasp expert at the Museum, says, ‘Wasps are generally apex predators — so if they’re not doing well, it indicates that there is something wrong with the world.’

Wasps are hugely beneficial to their native ecosystems due to the sheer amount of insects they capture. But their voracious appetites can cause problems if a species spreads or is introduced to new areas and their numbers aren’t kept under control, such as in New Zealand, where there are no native social wasps.

‘Where common and German wasps have been accidentally introduced to New Zealand, they’ve been stripping caterpillars out of forests. This is having a huge ecosystem impact and the native birds have been declining.’

What do wasps eat?

Adult wasps don’t eat the prey they kill — they feed it to their young. Social species capture insects, chop them up and carry parts back to the nest.

Some solitary species are more sinister. For example, most spider wasps paralyse arachnid prey using a venomous sting. Their larvae then eat the victim alive. There are almost 5,000 species of spider wasp worldwide, including 44 species in Britain.

A common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) captures a horsefly, which it will chop up and feed to its larvae В© Robert Goossens via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Instead of eating insects and spiders, adult wasps — both social and solitary — only feed on sugars. In the wild, sugars come from flower nectar and honeydew produced by aphids. Wasp larvae also produce a sugary liquid that the adults consume.

‘There is also a lot of sugar at pubs and picnics. Adult wasps don’t live very long, so they don’t really need protein. They’ve just got to load up on carbs,’ explains Gavin.

When on the hunt for nectar, wasps can also become accidental pollinators by travelling from plant to plant carrying pollen. While their contribution to pollination may not be as substantial as bees, wasps still play a valuable part.

Wasps are also a food source for other animals — including other wasps. In this image a European hornet (Vespa crabro) has captured a smaller social wasp, most likely a German wasp (Vespula germanica), which will then be chopped up and fed to the hornet’s own larvae. В© DimitЗЋr Boevski via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Where do wasps go in winter?

The lives of wasps in the UK are dictated by the seasons. They need large amounts of insects to feed their young, so are only active in the warmer months, when food is readily available.

The worker wasps of social species die off late in autumn, while recently emerged females hibernate. They spend the cold months in sheltered areas such as lofts and animal burrows.

But only some survive the chill. Those that do emerge when the weather warms up begin to form new colonies. After building a small nest, the new queen lays eggs of the first workers.

Four common wasps on the outside of a paper nest В© IgorArenz via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Gavin says, ‘At the beginning of April and May the colony is really small, with just a few workers. Growth is slow until you get to a certain mass, then it’s almost exponential growth.’

As the colony increases in size, so does the ability of the workforce to forage and feed the young, thus maintaining a cycle of growth.

Ancestors of the wasps most commonly found in the UK nested in cavities. This has resulted in species that thrive in manmade structures such as sheds and lofts. This sometimes makes wasps a pest problem when the colony mass increases.

But in Britain, colonies never reach their full potential as their growth is curtailed by winter. In parts of the world where winters are milder, colonies can continue to grow.

‘I think the biggest common wasp nests are in Australia,’ says Gavin. ‘There can be as many as two million workers. When you get a huge nest, you can imagine the large biomass of insect prey they’re taking in.’

Social wasps build nests in a variety of environments, both natural and manmade. This nest inside a bowler hat was built by a colony of common wasps.

Why do wasps sting?

Wasps use their venomous sting to subdue prey and defend their nest. They also use it to defend themselves.

Wasps sometimes sting us as they see us as a probable threat, even if we don’t really pose one.

Unlike honey bees, wasps don’t lose out by stinging us. Honey bees sacrifice their lives as their stings have a set of tiny barbs that hook into the skin.

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‘Honey bees have weak attachments in their abdomen. So when it pulls away the sting remains attached to you and it basically pulls away the entire muscle system around the sting. It’s a bit brutal,’ explains Gavin.

Wasps have smooth stings that can easily be pulled out of the skin by the insect — with the exception of a few South American species. If they run out of venom, they simply make more.

The smooth sting of a tarantula hawk (genus Pepsis). Found in southern USA and South and Central America, these species are regarded as having the most painful sting of any wasp. В© Rankin1958 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Common British wasps

If you see a wasp in Britain, it will most likely be either the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) or the German wasp (Vespula germanica). These species are very similar in size and colour — predominantly yellow with black markings.

Gavin adds, ‘The red wasp (Vespula rufa) and the tree wasp (Dolichovespula sylvestris) are also common. The Saxon wasp (Dolichovespula saxonica) only arrived in Britain in the 1980s and it’s mainly common in the south.

‘The European hornet (Vespa crabro) is quite common in parts of the south, but it is more of a woodland species,’ says Gavin.

The European hornet is the UK’s only native hornet species and is the largest of our social wasps. Their bodies are also yellow with a dark pattern — although it has a sting that is more painful than other social wasps in Britain, usually leaving the stung area throbbing for a few hours.

The European hornet (Vespa crabro) shares a similar colouration and pattern with a number of other social wasps. This is a form of MГјllerian mimicry. В© Jerzy Strzelecki via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Although wasps may cause us strife in the summer months — and leave some to question the point of them — these insects play a crucial role in maintaining harmony in the ecosystem. We certainly would not be able to cope in a world without them.


What Do Wasps Eat?

There are more than 20,000 different species of wasps and their relatives in existence worldwide, each with a varying diet, some preferring nectar, others living on insects. Adult wasps and larval young have quite different eating habits. The tiny, narrow waist of an adult wasp prohibits it from eating solid food, as it can’t pass through the constricted abdomen. Adult wasps prefer nectar or even the internal juices of caterpillars and other insects. They do not have the sucking mouthparts of a bee and must ingest their food by licking the nectar or other liquid.

Feeding the Young Wasps in the Nest

Many larval wasps eat only meat, brought to them by the adult worker wasps. The adults fly from the nest, seeking insects including spiders, flies, beetles, and others. Grasping them with their jaws, they sting the prey, paralyzing it. Then, they fly back to the nest to feed the immature wasp larvae the fresh kill. Other species of larval wasps feed on regurgitated nectar brought back to the nest by the worker wasps. The adult drinks nectar from plants, honeydew produced by other insects, or internal juices from a caterpillar, then return to the nest where they regurgitate the liquid and feed this to the larvae. An interesting fact about wasp behavior and feeding habits is that the larval wasps also feed the workers. After eating, the larvae produce a highly concentrated, nutritious liquid that the workers lick from the mouths of the larvae.

Solitary Wasp Feeding Behavior

Some wasps are parasitic, laying eggs inside other living insects. The larval wasps then feed within the insect, eventually killing it. Other solitary wasps may bring insects to their nest, placing them with the wasp’s eggs so the young have food as soon as they emerge from the egg.


Do wasps eat meat?

Today I was sat outside at a restaurant in PA, USA and watched as a wasp landed on a plate, went for a large piece of chicken, then spent a minute or so carefully biting out a fairly large piece (about half the size of the wasp itself). It then grasped the piece of chicken it had cut out with its legs and flew off. This scene was repeated three times before we left the restaurant (not sure if it was the same wasp) — each time it ignored other items on the plate (nachos grande including beans, vegetables, nachos, rice, etc.) and went straight for the chicken.

I have a few questions!

What’s the usual diet for a wasp and is it usual for them to eat chicken (and even choose it preferentially over other foods like nachos, beans, vegetables, etc.)?

Where did the wasp go with that big piece of chicken? To a quiet spot to eat it alone like a bird or squirrel might do, or to take it back to a hive to share?

Finally, how do wasps eat? I remember learning that flies regurgitate digestive enzymes onto food then suck up the mush, but it looked like the wasp had poweful mandibles that made easy work of cutting the chicken.

What do wasps usually use those jaws for? i.e. they presumably didn’t evolve them to cut chicken into fly-away sized pieces?

  • Phil Leftwich
  • University of East Anglia
  • Posts: 139

So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this was probably some kind of social wasp, i.e. one that lives in a nest as a worker with many others, rather than a solitary wasp. This is because most solitary wasps are parasites as larvae, developing inside an unlucky host. However some social wasps will have larvae developing inside constructed nests and the workers will provision them with meat.
An adult wasp will drink only nectar, those mandibles you see are for attacking other insects, defending hives etc. and they also enable the wasp to cut up chunks of meat which it can take back to the hive to provision the young larvae with fresh meat!
In some cases the larvae will even provide secretions from their bodies which provide the adults with food. So that the adults can be being fed (albeit indirectly) from any carrion they bring back to the nest.
Hope that answers everything!

  • Stuart Roberts
  • University of Reading
  • Posts: 43

Many solitary species are also free living, and hunt for animal prey (in fact, bees are just veggie-wasps). Different species hunt for different prey species, and this will allow a large range of species to be present in a single area. Indeed, Ian Yarrow (writing in 1935) recorded no less that 35 species of wasp nesting in a sandy area of 5m x 5m on a Dorset (UK) heathland.


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