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5 Must-Know Facts About Wasps

Serving Long Island | Nassau County | Suffolk County

Wasp facts with Arrow Exterminating Company Inc in NYFor homeowners who find themselves worrying about wasps buzzing around their property or dealing with a nest issue, getting to know these stinging insects can bring some peace of mind. Whether you’re currently dealing with an infestation or want to prevent them, here are 5 must-know facts about wasps in Long Island. 

1. Wasps Can Be Beneficial

Wasps assist with pollination, though because they aren’t fuzzy like honey bees or bumblebees, they aren’t very efficient at it. These insects are most beneficial to gardeners because of their eating habits, not their interest in flowers. 

These stinging insects eat various annoying insects like flies, beetle grubs, cabbage worms, aphids, crickets and other insects that attack crops. Another way wasps help the environment is by eating already dead bugs. Whether they’re capturing live or dead insects, though, it’s estimated that they can consume more than two pounds of bugs from a 2,000 square-foot yard in their lifetime. 

2. Wasp Nests Are Rebuilt Each Year

Each year, as temperatures warm and resources become plentiful, fertile queen wasps emerge from hibernation to begin the process of building a nest all over again. These nests, often found suspended from branches or eaves, start as small structures but rapidly expand as worker wasps hatch and join the effort. 

Throughout the spring and summer months, worker wasps tirelessly add layers to the nest, reinforcing its structure and accommodating the growing colony. However, with the arrival of autumn and declining temperatures, the colony’s focus shifts. As food becomes scarce and reproductive duties take precedence, the colony begins to dwindle. 

Eventually, only the newly mated queens survive, seeking shelter to hibernate through the winter and repeating the cycle come spring. 

3. These Insects Are Most Aggressive During Fall

If you’ve ever hosted a barbeque between August and late October, then you know that yellowjackets and wasps can be a major problem at this time of year. But why are stinging insects more aggressive as summer comes to a close? 

In short, it’s because wasps have fewer food sources in the fall, which causes them to become desperate while looking for a bite to eat. 

In mid to late summer, the wasp queen lays her last round of eggs. These will turn into fertile wasps which will form their own colonies for next year. Relieved of the burden of constantly having to feed protein to hungry larvae, the worker wasps focus most of their diet on sweet things. While earlier in the year this would entail plant nectar, by this time of the year sources for nectar are a bit scarcer. 

This combination of the change in their habits, fewer opportunities for plant nectar, and an abundance of sweet food and drinks – as people enjoy outdoor activities in late summer and fall – is what puts wasps and humans on a collision course. 

4. Queens Rarely Sting… But Can Cause More Pain

Yes, wasp queens can sting – but it rarely happens. Queens are only seen in the spring when they’re establishing a new colony and must fend for themselves. From late spring through summer and fall, queens stay in the colony laying eggs and being tended to by worker wasps.

However, if a wasp queen is encountered and she feels threatened – or believes she has to protect her emerging wasp wasp nest – it’ll be more noticeable and likely more painful than a regular wasp worker’s sting. That’s because queens are larger than regular workers and her increased size also applies to the size of her stinger.

5. Wasps Don’t Just Eat Sweets

While wasps are attracted to plant nectar and sweet items – which explains why they go after your sugary drinks and desserts – they need protein in the larval stage so wasps hunt other insects and bring them back to the colony for the young. They may eat other insects or try to find scraps of meat and other protein-rich foods. 

Wasp activity around outdoor trash cans and cookouts increases in the late summer and early fall because the bugs and nectar they ate earlier in the season are scarcer and they need to look for alternative food sources. That’s when they start going after your sugary drinks and leftovers. 

More Wasp Fact FAQs

Wasps are flying insects belonging to the order Hymenoptera and the suborder Apocrita. They are closely related to bees, sharing similar anatomical features such as a slender waist and two pairs of wings. 

Wasps are known for their distinctive coloration, often sporting yellow and black stripes, although some species exhibit different patterns and colors. They play vital roles in ecosystems as predators, pollinators, and scavengers.

The diet of wasps varies depending on their life stage. Adult wasps primarily feed on nectar and sweet substances, such as fruit juices and plant sap, which provide them with the energy they need for flight and other activities. 

However, during the larval stage, wasps are carnivorous, hunting and consuming a variety of prey, including insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They play a crucial role in controlling populations of pest insects, making them valuable contributors to ecosystem balance.

The lifespan of a wasp varies depending on the species and environmental factors. Typically, worker wasps, which are sterile females responsible for tasks such as nest building, foraging, and caring for the young, live for several weeks to a few months during the active season. 

Male wasps, or drones, also have relatively short lifespans, typically surviving only a few weeks. However, fertile queens have the potential for much longer lifespans, as they can survive through the winter to initiate new colonies in the following spring. 

In some cases, queen wasps may live for several years, ensuring the survival and propagation of their species.

Identifying wasp nests around your property is crucial for safety and effective management. Though each species is different, here’s how to identify the two most common types of wasp nests:

  • Paper Nests: Constructed by paper wasps and yellow jackets, these nests resemble upside-down umbrellas. They’re made from chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva and are often found hanging from tree branches, eaves, or under decks and porches.
  • Underground Nests: Built by yellow jackets and some hornet species, these nests are located in burrows dug into the ground. They may be hidden under vegetation or in other sheltered areas.

Keep an eye out for increased wasp activity around potential nest sites, especially during warmer months. Regular inspections of these areas can help identify and address any nests promptly, ensuring a safer environment for you and your family.

Wasp nests are frequently found in attics or around windows – but they can also create nests near or under decks, inside cars that are left unused for months, and on the underside of patio tables. Other places wasps can nest include:

  • Under eaves
  • In or along garden sheds and garages
  • On or under outdoor furniture
  • Above, under or on playground equipment
  • Soffits and exterior fascia


The last thing you want is to sit down on your lawn chair or open your patio umbrella and discover wasps. If you want to keep wasps out of your patio furniture, remember that movement is the key.

Wasps can technically build a nest almost anywhere, but they avoid items that move. If you’re regularly using, opening, and closing the umbrella, wasps are less likely to select it as a nesting site. For extra safety, store the furniture in a shed or garage when not in use.

That depends upon what time of year you kill the queen. If you kill her in the winter, the colony she would have created won’t emerge. Similarly, if you kill a wasp queen in the spring before her workers have sufficiently matured, that can also eliminate the potential colony. 

If a nest is well established, however, then the death of the queen will have little effect.

Staying safe from wasps is essential, especially for those with allergies or young children. Here are some tips to minimize the risk of encountering and getting stung by these insects:

  • Be Mindful of Surroundings: Stay alert and watch for signs of wasp activity, especially near known nest sites such as eaves, trees, and shrubs. Be cautious when working in the garden or participating in outdoor activities.
  • Avoid Strong Scents: Wasps are attracted to strong scents, including perfumes, colognes, and scented lotions. Opt for unscented personal care products when spending time outdoors.
  • Cover Food and Drinks: Keep food and drinks covered when dining outdoors to prevent attracting wasps. Dispose of food waste promptly and keep garbage bins tightly sealed.
  • Wear Protective Clothing: When engaging in outdoor activities in areas prone to wasp activity, consider wearing long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes. Additionally, wearing light-colored clothing can make you less attractive to wasps.
  • Stay Calm and Move Slowly: If a wasp approaches, remain calm and avoid swatting or making sudden movements that could provoke it. Slowly and calmly move away from the area to reduce the likelihood of a sting.
  • Use Caution Around Nests: If you discover a wasp nest on your property, exercise caution and avoid disturbing it. Contact a professional pest control service for safe removal.

5 Must-Know Facts About Wasps Serving Long Island and surrounding areas

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