We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Wasps?

Michael Anissimov
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Wasps are any animal in order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor ant. There are over 200,000 species, making wasps one of the most diverse groups of insects. The most familiar types are the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris), yellowjackets (members of genera Vespula and Dolichovespula), and the European hornet (Vespa crabro). These animals are generally categorized at the highest level by whether they are social or solitary. The group probably evolved in the Triassic Period, about 225 million years ago.

Like all other insects, wasps are invertebrate arthropods that reproduce using a larval stage. They have two pairs of wings used for flight. Females have a stinger, which evolved from a female sex organ called an ovipositor, thus being absent in males. Most wasp stings are painful and unpleasant, described by the entomologist Justin O. Schmidt as "like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin." A few rare species, like the Asian giant hornet, can produce stings so toxic that they can kill. The sting of the Asian giant hornet was described by one Japanese entomologist, Masato Ono, as being "like a hot nail being driven into my leg." Unlike bees, wasps lack barbs on their stingers, meaning they can sting repeatedly.

Both wasp adults and larvae are the leading parasites in the insect world, and there is a wasp parasite for practically every pest insect, making them very useful for pest control. The larvae are parasitoid, meaning they are parasites during the larval stage. About 10-20% of insects are parasites, but wasps make up the majority by far. Some are parasitic in their adult forms as well, but these tend to be small, 1/100 to 3/4 of an inch long. As a result, they mostly tend to go unnoticed by humans, though they kill many pest insects.

Wasps that aren't parasitic build nests. This includes both predatory asocial and social wasps. Both types build nests out of paper created by chewing wood pulp and mixing it with saliva. They choose sheltered areas such as attics or holes in the ground, with direct access to the outdoors a must. The nests have little cells for laying eggs in. Asocial wasps lay the eggs and leave them, while the social type continue interactions as the eggs turn into larvae and then adults.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated WiseGeek contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated WiseGeek contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology,...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.