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Scientific Classification

Wasps are winged insects with stingers. There are over 30,000 different species of wasps [1]. They belong to the order Hymenoptera [2] and many build nests of paper or mud where they raise their young. Wasps eat flower nectar, other insects, and sometimes meat.


Wasp mouth parts

The wasp's anatomy is made up of three body parts: the abdomen, the thorax, and the head. They have a strong, hard exoskeleton [3]and most wasps grow up to be 19mm long[4].The wasp has a strong jaw, six legs that are jointed, two antennae, and a petiole (waist). This petiole is slender and separates the thorax and the abdomen. This insect also has four wings and many females have stingers at the end of their abdomen [5]


Young queens mate in their nest with drone wasps (males), after mating the drone dies quickly. The swarm of wasps in that same nest die at the end of autumn with only the young mated queen wasps left. These female wasps leave the nest and search for a place to hibernate over the winter. Inside the queen bee is a ball of sperm stored from when she mated in the summer. The queen wasp is able to release the sperm each time she lays an egg. The queen is able to form a new colony this way. Late spring, the queen wasp will come out of hibernation and start looking for a good place for a nest. After finding one, the wasp will start building a small nest out of paper and then start laying eggs. Once the eggs hatch, they become sterile female wasps called workers. The workers then take over the job that the queen started and continue to build the nest. The queen wasp continues to lay her eggs and at the end of the summer, she lays some more eggs, which produce drones and also fertile females (queens) so that they can mate and make new nests for next year.[6]


Wasp on a rose.jpg

Wasp are very important – they help control many different things in the ecosystem. Some wasps (sawflies) will eat vegetation and that limits plant growth. Others will control the population of thousands of different insect species by eating them since most wasps are either parasitic or predaceous. Other insects also eat wasps so that helps out with the food chain/web. Some wasps have been cultured to be used to control agricultural pest. Other wasps will eat larvae (caterpillars) that will destroy crops. Wasps also help with pollination when they feed on flower nectar.[7]

Common Families