But most wasps are actually solitary, non-stinging varieties. And all do far more good for humans by controlling pest insect populations than harm.
Wasps are distinguishable from bees by their pointed lower abdomens and the narrow "waist," called a petiole, that separates the abdomen from the thorax.
They come in every color imaginable, from the familiar yellow to brown, metallic blue, and bright red. Generally, the brighter colored species are in the Vespidae, or stinging wasp, family.
All wasps build …show more content…
When she emerges, she builds a small nest and rears a starter brood of worker females. These workers then take over expanding the nest, building multiple six-sided cells into which the queen continually lays eggs. By late summer, a colony can have more than 5,000 individuals, all of whom, including the founding queen, die off at winter. Only newly fertilized queens survive the cold to restart the process in spring.
Solitary wasps, by far the largest subgroup, do not form colonies. This group includes some of the wasp family's largest members, like cicada killers and the striking blue-and-orange tarantula hawks, which can both reach 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) in length. Whereas social wasps use their stingers only for defense, stinging solitary wasps rely on their venom to hunt.
Most animals have developed a well-earned fear of stinging wasps and give them a wide berth. Creatures who haplessly stumble upon a wasp colony or have the audacity to disturb a nest will find themselves quickly swarmed. A social wasp in distress emits a pheromone that sends nearby colony members into a defensive, stinging frenzy. Unlike bees, wasps can sting repeatedly. Only females have stingers, which are actually modified egg-laying