Wasp Life Cycle: When Do Wasps Go Away?
The sight of a wasp gets many people’s hearts racing. Their painful sting and menacing appearance drive many of us crazy during the summer. The most common wasp species we see in North America are yellow jackets and hornets, but in fact, there are tens of thousands of wasp species throughout the entire planet.1 Some wasps are social, meaning they live in colonies, and a vast majority are solitary.
Because there are so many species, it is difficult to pinpoint their life cycle and behaviors. But we can make some generalizations to help prepare us for summer.
Where do wasps go in the winter? Do Wasps Hibernate?
During the winter the queen wasps & other wasps will hibernate in deep crevasses. Only a very small percentage of them will survive to spring due to the weather and lack of nourishment. The rest will either starve to death or be eaten by predators like spiders that also hide during the winter.
When Does Wasp Season Start?
In April, the surviving queen wasps emerge and begin to form a colony. They look for locations that are well sheltered and not easily accessible. Typically, we see them in loft spaces, high overhangs, window frames, garages, sheds, and other less frequented places. Once the queen selects her location and builds the first hive foundation, she will begin to lay the eggs of the worker wasps. A queen wasps will never select the same hive location as a previously built hive. 2
The workers, or drones, will emerge around the end of April to early May. The drones build the hive, allowing the queen to focus all her attention on populating the colony.
When are Wasps Most Active?
By June to July, the colony will be fully populated. Some hives can grow as large as 5,000– 10,000 wasps. It is during these months that wasps are most visible outside the nest. The drones are on a steady mission to bring back food for the larvae and continue to build up the nest. If you watch a nest carefully, you can see a continuous rhythm of wasps flying in and out.
When Does Wasps Season End?
By the end of summer, August to September, the wasp season should start to begin as the queen wasp will fly away with males to create new queen wasps. Once the queen leaves the hive, the drones become more aggressive and will stray farther from the nest. They no longer have to forage for young larvae, so they are free to scavenge for themselves alone.4
When Is It Too Cold for Wasps?
As the cold weather begins to arrive, you will notice the immediate decrease in wasps you spot outside. The goal for the colony is to stockpile enough food for the queen to be able to survive until the next summer to be able to rebuild the colony. As they do this and the weather continues to drop in temperature, like humans, these wasps will become grumpier and will be more willing to protect their nests from outside threats. However, these dropping temperatures will also cause a shift in the wasps metabolisms and energy storage abilities. This inability to store energy can get to the point where it becomes hard to do the simple task of flying.
Once the weather hits below 50 degrees, these winged workers will have difficulty doing much of anything, and once it drops below freezing and frost begins to appear, you can assume that most of these wasps have begun dying.
How Long Does a Wasps Live For?
On average, the normal worker wasps lives for 12-24 days. The average lifespan of any queen wasps can be around one year. These life cycles can vary depending on the different types of wasps, but for most cases, the queen's lifespan is around 10-12 months.
How to Get Rid of Wasps During Peak Season?
Adult wasps eat sugars like nectar and fruit. The larvae wasps are carnivorous and feed on other insects brought to them by the adults.3 During those summer months, using wasp traps like ours that are baited with sugary substances is a great way to keep the wasps away from you.
However, if you do have a large wasp nest on your property, we recommend calling in a professional to help. The pheromone released in wasp venom acts as a warning beacon to other wasps and instantly makes them more aggressive.4 So always tackle any wasp project with care and make sure no children or pets are near!
- 3.3 Life Cycle. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://www.waspbane.com/?page_id=124
- David, T. (2016, June 02). When Do Wasps Die Off & All You Need to Know About Nests - GPM. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from http://www.gpmpest.co.uk/news/when-wasps-die-off-nests
- Karns, K. (2017, August 11). What Months Are Wasps Active? Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://animals.mom.me/months-wasps-active-11787.html
- Admin. (2018, July 10). Wasp Season in Michigan This Summer | Griffin Pest Solutions. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://www.griffinpest.com/blog/wasp-season-in-michigan-this-summer/
@Patricia – We would recommend Wasp Traps and Wasp Hive Deterrents!
It’s November nice just arrived at our house in Delaware and there are dead wasps everywhere. About 60 so far. Don’t know where they’re coming in at or if one of them what’s a queen. What do we do?
@Doug – Good question! Both the fertile males and females born in the spring/summer leave the colony to mate and find somewhere to hibernate. As the temperature falls through winter, the current queen and the adult workers die and the nest is left empty. The hibernating queens will ensure the continuation of the life cycle when they awake in spring. If you new queen decides to hibernate in your attic, then yes, they could possibly emerge in the spring if you don’t plug the hole. Hope this helps! ~Customer Support
Hi, there is a wasp nest in my attic (northern Calif.). The worker wasps go in and out of a small hole next to the soffit vent. Not sure how far the nest is from the vent. I’m willing to leave them alone to finish their life cycle. Questions — if the wasps disappear in Sept. or October, then there is still a queen in the nest? If I fill in that hole in November, how will the queen get out, or will it just die in the attic. With that hole filled in, will next year’s wasps likely go somewhere? Thanks for info!
@Ann – Yes! The wash trap helps keep away yellow jackets too! ~Best Bee Brothers