What Do Wasps Eat? Do All Types Of Wasps Eat The Same Food?

Deepthi Reddy
Feb 01, 2023 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Oct 29, 2021
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Paper Wasp cleaning up on a peony.

We're all familiar with the wasp, an insect of order Hymenoptera, similar to a bee or an ant.

Wasps play a significant role in the ecosystem. They are said to be very helpful to humanity since they actively pollinate plants, guaranteeing optimal growth of numerous fruit and vegetables.

All wasps are divided into two categories: solitary wasps that live alone and social wasps that live in groups. Solitary wasps are numerous; they do not establish colonies and they are larger than social wasps.

Also, a solo wasp will use its stinger to pursue prey, but a social wasp will only use its stinger for protection. There are around 1,000 different kinds of social wasps.

They establish colonies, with some of them containing up to 5,000 wasps. Some female wasps who survive the winter become queens, hibernating and repopulating the colony the following year.

Wasps are a broad family, with an evaluated 20,000 species of wasps around the world, and many more not yet identified. Depending on their species, wasps have different food preferences. Wasps consume the sweetness of fruit and nectar, as well as aphid honeydew or a sugary liquid produced by their larvae. Some wasps also eat insects.

In addition, you might be surprised to learn that wasps have different food preferences according to their cycle. Surprisingly, their eating patterns help with insect control. Let us explore how.

Before we get into the specifics, don't forget to check out our related and fascinating topics like what do ants eat and what do caterpillars eat?

Do wasps eat meat? Are they carnivores?

Adult wasps, whether social or solitary, exclusively feed on sugars and do not eat insects. They feed on sugars obtained in the wild from floral nectar, plants, and honeydew. Different types of wasps eat different types of food.

Some species of wasps are carnivorous, like the yellow jackets, known for feeding on meat. Likewise, Northern paper wasps eat arthropods, animal protein, carbohydrates, and protein. They even eat caterpillars, flies, ants, termites, spiders, bees, and other wasps. So, when humans leave leftover meat in their garbage, it might attract them quickly.

Do wasps eat other insects?

Wasps play an essential role in the food chain as predators of other insects and help in pest control.

Not all, but some gregarious wasps feed on insects like ants, bees, beetles, aphids, and spiders. In fact, adult wasps use the prey they kill as a food source for their young.

They capture insects, then chop them up, and pieces are carried back to the nest to feed their young ones.

Some solo species use a poisonous sting to paralyze their prey, then they lay their eggs inside or on the insects/host, and their larvae subsequently eat the insects alive. Wasps do not catch or eat small insects like mosquitoes as they do not have any protein content.

Wasp Diet Preferences

Wasps are certainly a beautiful force of nature, with an equally spectacular appetite.

Wasps love to consume sugar or high-protein meals, especially fruits, nectar from a range of flowers, pollen, plants, and honey to fulfill their high-energy demands and for their survival. One of the primary reasons they are considered a pest is because of their fondness for fruit.

When other insects hunt the sap from trees or plants, the remaining secretion clings to the backside of the insect, resembling a drop of dew known as honey-dew; wasps like drinking this sap to keep full or hydrated.

Wasp larvae also generate a sweet liquid that the adults consume. Some wasps species also devour human foods, which is generally bothersome near barbeque sites.

What's fascinating is that an adult wasps' diet is different from that of larvae. Larvae eat up just meat since they must rely on foods brought to them.

As a result, they often feed on insects. Adult wasps sting and paralyze animals and bring these animals to their wasp nests to lay their eggs inside them, their larvae will eat these animals as they grow.

Are they beneficial for your garden?

During the summer, wasps go out to hunt spiders, flies, and other insects found in wood, many of which are pests to feed their larvae.

Wasps are beneficial in the control and eradication of pests as they prey on them. If wasps didn't exist, many common garden pests with few natural predators would have devoured all our produce before they can be harvested!

Besides helping to eradicate pests, they are also beneficial as they pollinate plants while eating nectar from blooms, as they fly from one bloom to the next.

Do all types of wasps eat the same things?

Different wasps consume a variety of meals.

For example, the adult members of blue mud dauber feed on nectar and flowers. At the same time, their larvae consume a high protein meal obtained from spiders. Common wasp adults eat nectar, while larvae dine on aphids, caterpillars, spiders, and flies. The European wasp has been observed eating carrion, live arthropods, honeydew, fruits, processed human food, and garbage.

The Asian hornet is highly predatory; it catches bees, other hornets, and praying mantises. A species known as paper wasps are mistakenly thought to enjoy eating wood, but in reality, they don't.

The adults chew off small pieces of wood and take these pieces to make their wasp nest in your garden. The paper wasp is omnivorous, it is known for eating honeydew, nectar, and other insect larvae.

What do wasps eat in the fall?

Most wasps do not survive as winter approaches. However, a few female wasps survive in the colony, becoming queen wasps and forming a new colony.

In the fall, the rest of the wasps need to find a way to replace their sugars and carbohydrates. To accomplish this, they find human food from the garbage, like sugary snacks, soda, and meat, in addition to fruit, honey, nectar, and small insects.

Therefore, you'll probably see many wasps intruding on your picnic or around your garbage. Do you know wasps become more aggressive in the winter and are more likely to attack you in the fall than in the summer?

Wasps, unlike bees, can sting repeatedly. Swarming wasps can sting several times in a short period of time, which can be quite painful.

Finding a few wasps in our gardens might be exciting, but discovering them in large numbers? It might be unpleasant to have wasps in your house, especially if you or someone else is allergic to wasp stings.

We fear that wasps near our homes may disrupt our outdoor activities, but the wasp stings and is aggressive when it is scared or disturbed. Their stings are unpleasant, but they are rarely life-threatening to humans unless you are allergic to them.

Always remember to maintain a safe distance from them. If you encounter one, remember you need to slowly and carefully back away from the wasp.

Do not make abrupt movements, or throw anything at the wasp, they may become aggressive if you do. Knocking down the wasp nest or utilizing other techniques might backfire and result in you getting stung by hundreds of wasps.

Contact a pest control specialist in your area.

Also, understand how to detect and securely remove a wasp nest.

If you prefer not to use pesticides and are keen on adopting natural treatments, try adding vigorous aroma plants, such as mint, to your house or spraying diluted essential oils, such as peppermint oil or spearmint oil as wasps have a great sense of smell, which they use to find food.

They dislike strong smells from peppermint, clove, lemongrass, sliced cucumber, vinegar, bay leaves, geranium flowers, and aromatic herbs as they cause distress.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do wasps eat? Then why not take a look at what do cockroaches eat or why do dogs howl at night?

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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