Wasps are identified as stinging insect groups in order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita. Despite their diversity, wasps are well distinguished from Apocrita ants and bees by behavioral and physical characteristics, especially with their slender and smooth body and relatively sparse hair legs. Generally, wasps are predatory or parasitic and have sparsely thorny stingers easily removed from their victim. Unlike bees, wasps attack their victim severally because they don’t die when they bite.
There are different types of wasps in the United States and over 100,000 worldwide. They are most active during the day and typically return to their nests at dusk. These pests often fly around in late summer and early autumn when colonies search for food to feed the queen during the winter. In their quest for food and survival, wasps fall into many dangers, especially predators who eat them.
What Eats Wasps?
Insects like beetles, centipedes, dragonflies, hoverflies, spiders, moths, robber flies, and praying mantis eat wasps.
Wasps are omnivores because they eat various plant-based foods and other insects. Despite their poisonous stingers, they still fall prey to many species like:
Unfortunately, their bright colors are pretty eye-catching and make them appealing to their predators. Wasps can be subdivided into two major groups- solitary wasps (live alone) and social wasps (live in colonies). As stinging insects, they are part of the same families as bees, but they are aggressive and good pollinators. The common wasp types include hornets, paper wasps, and yellow jackets. See below in detail several animal species that feed on wasps.
Wasp Predators: Insects
Many wasps fall into the hands of predators like dragonflies, centipedes, hoverflies, beetles, spiders, moths, praying mantis, and robber flies.
Spiders have special techniques for hunting wasps. They catch these insects using their webs and, after hunting, eat them slowly over time.
Robber flies sting wasps with their venom, paralyzing them before eating them. Interestingly, they catch these wasps in mid-air during their flight.
For dragonflies, they harness different methods to capture and eat wasps. They quietly lay down to monitor their prey as they swim or float past them. As soon as they move past this level, they shoot out their lower jaws, catch the wasps, and devour them. However, for the case of adult dragonflies, their hunting style is quite different – they fly with their mouths wide open to consume their prey in mid-air.
A praying mantis eats hornets and fights with its prey aggressively. When a hornet flies past it, the mantis pounces on it and holds it in place using its long front legs. Sadly, it peels the hornet’s head until it has access to its brain, which it enjoys as food.
Wasp Predators: Birds
Several birds eat wasps, and they are mostly found hunting after solitary wasps such as the mud dauber. These species of wasps tend to be more docile and rarely sting. Moreover, they are not aggressive and, by default, permit their predators to consume them with zero struggles.
Birds such as chipping sparrows, gray catbirds, warblers, orioles, bluebirds, chickadees, blackbirds, and many others eat wasps. However, they resort to their natural feeding pattern during the breeding season, including fruits, nuts, berries, other insects, fish, and tree saps.
In North America, the warblers are dominant, and most of the time, they are seen preying on wasps in mid-flight. These birds use their wings or snap their beaks shut to trap wasps inside before consuming them.
Wasp Predators: Mammals
Many mammals like black bears, mice, weasels, bats, and honey badgers eat wasps. Honey badgers are carnivores, and during the summer, one may observe debris and fragments of comb scattered in all directions of the woods because of their hunting spree for wasps. Moreover, just like honey badgers during summer, black bears also hunt for wasps larvae in their nests, and after a successful hunt, they devour and eat these insects.
Wasp Predators: Amphibians
Amphibians such as salamanders, toads, and frogs have quite an appetite for wasps and their larvae. As a fact, toads have no complications eating wasps because they are immune to their stings. They capture these insects and eat them without the fear of being stung.
Other Dangers to Wasps
Although wasps are an endangered species, they play an essential role as decomposers and pollinators in the ecosystem.
Wasps, such as paper wasps, mainly build their nests around homes, structures, and sturdy trees. However, their unwanted presence makes the human environment unconducive to daily activities. Consequently, humans tend to eradicate them with insecticides or powdered pesticides to avoid being stung.
How Do Wasps Defend Themselves From Predators?
Wasps employ various techniques and methods to protect themselves from their predators. For example, when they fight with their predators in mid-air, the adult social wasps alert other nestmates by sending a pheromone. This pheromone triggers them to get ready to swarm around, attack the enemy, and protect their nests. Fortunately for these wasps, their body structure allows for more flexibility in the air. And as a result of this advantage, they use it as a defense system against dangers.
Wasps also build their nests far away from predators or places inaccessible to them. They often make high or underground nests and build them out of hard mud to keep their larvae safe from dangers. Intriguingly, these techniques of carving out their nests have helped them a great deal in defending themselves against predators. Also, their population has exponentially increased over the years as they procreate far from their predators.
Wasps’ body shape makes them efficient hunters – they hunt for proteins and are more aggressive when they hunt. Predatory and parasitoidal wasps protect themselves by stinging their enemy. Surprisingly, they also hunt insects like spiders, ants, and caterpillars.
Summary of What Eats Wasps
Bonus: How to Treat a Wasp Sting at Home
Wasp stings are painful when they occur – wasps tend to sting several times – making it even worse! To minimize the effects of these stings it is important to take immediate action. Follow these steps for a quick recovery: (If you have been stung in the mouth, nose, or throat – seek medical attention without delay)
- Wash the affected area with warm soap and water. This can help to wash out venom and bacteria the wasp left behind.
- Apply ice or a cold pack. This will really help with swelling and will reduce the pain of the sting. This should be done for about an hour after the sting in intervals of ten minutes on and ten minutes off.
- Take anti-inflammatory medicine. Take an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen for pain and swelling.
- Treat itchiness with an antihistamine. Not only will this help with itchiness – but it will also diminish pain and swelling. The sooner it is applied – the better.
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