Discover Wasp Life Cycle and Seasonality
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.
During the winter the queen wasps will hibernate in deep crevasses. Only a very small percentage of them will survive to spring. The rest will either starve to death or be eaten by predators like spiders that also hide during the winter.
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.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.
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.
By the end of summer, August to September, 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
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/