Wasps

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pest-control-waspsThe most commonly known wasps, such as yellow jackets and hornets, are in the family Vespidae and are eusocial, living together in a nest with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. Eusociality is favored by the unusual haplodiploid system of sex determination in Hymenoptera, as it makes sisters exceptionally closely related to each other. However, the majority of wasp species are solitary, with each adult female living and breeding independently. Many of the solitary wasps are parasitoidal, meaning that they raise their young by laying eggs on or in the larvae of other insects. The wasp larvae eat the host larvae, eventually killing them. Solitary wasps parasitize almost every pest insect, making wasps valuable in horticulture for biological pest control of species such as whitefly in tomatoes and other crops.

Wasps play many ecological roles. Some are predators, whether to feed themselves or to provision their nests. Many, notably the cuckoo wasps, are kleptoparasites, laying eggs in the nests of other wasps. With their powerful stings and conspicuous warning coloration, often in black and yellow, wasps are frequent models for Batesian mimicry by non-stinging insects, and are themselves involved in mutually beneficial Müllerian mimicry of other distasteful insects including bees and other wasps.