Fun Cuckoo Wasp Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Feb 29, 2024 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Cuckoo wasp facts about a parasitic killer with brilliant metallic colors created by structural coloration.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

The cuckoo wasp is also called the ruby-tailed wasp or the gold wasps. The Latin name for cuckoo wasp is Chrysididae. They live primarily in the wild and curl up into a ball when attacked. They lay their eggs in the nest of other solitary wasps and bees in a manner that the latter does not recognize. Cuckoo wasps stinging humans is not a new fact but various other species of wasps to are known to be harmful if attacked as well. The cuckoo wasp stinger is usually the male and is strong and can cause a lot of pain and stress in the body hence they are known as parasitic killers. Some consider them to be more sinister than even parasites. Female cuckoo wasps are considered largely unable to harm or sting human beings.

Installing pest control can help get rid of these wasps however it does not end there, other measures also need to be set in place like removing sources of food out of their sight, sealing garbage bins and trash, and also covering any holes in the ground. There are a total of 17,000 predatory wasps that hunt other insects, nectar, and pollen. In this article, we will take a look at some fun and interesting facts about cuckoo wasps. If you liked this article, you should also check out mud dauber wasp and cicada killer wasp facts.

Cuckoo Wasp Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a cuckoo wasp?

The cuckoo wasp belongs to the family chrysididae and is a type of insect in the animal kingdom.  

What class of animal does a cuckoo wasp belong to?

The cuckoo wasp is an arthropod and belongs to the family chrysididae and order Hymenoptera.

How many cuckoo wasps are there in the world?

The exact number of cuckoo wasps in the world is unknown however they are primarily found in desert regions of the world. Various other species have similar features and are often confused with each other.

Where does a cuckoo wasp live?

A cuckoo wasp can be found in most regions in the world except in Antarctica since its travels from time to time and lays eggs in the nest of other insects instead of building its own, hence its name being similar to that of the cuckoo bird who lays its eggs in a crows nest. The cuckoo wasp location also includes the woods, the desert,  in and near a  house in some instances, tropical rainforest, and can even be found in a savanna region.

What is a cuckoo wasp's habitat?

A cuckoo wasp habitat is anywhere in the world except in Antarctica. They reside primarily where they get shelter and where they can find their dietary requirements. A cuckoo wasp is a parasite to other bees as well as wasp species.

Who do cuckoo wasps live with?

Adult cuckoo wasps primarily live on their own. It's rare to see them travel together unlike bees who in some instances travel together as a swarm of bees. They only come together once to mate during the season. A cuckoo wasp in the house atmosphere can be dangerous specifically if there are small children since they are harmful in nature.

How long does a cuckoo wasp live?

The average lifespan of a cuckoo green wasp is 12-22 days. The exact lifespan of a cuckoo wasp is also similar however this depends on various other factors as well. The tarantula hawk is the most dangerous wasp species ever. The tarantula hawk targets spider's primarily.

How do they reproduce?

Male and female cuckoo wasp mate and then the females lay their eggs in the nests of other unsuspecting hosts. The cuckoo wasp nest is not innately it's own, as it's actually the host's nest. The larvae of the cuckoo wasp are known to feed on the larvae of a host and also on the food provisioned by the female potter wasp for its own larvae. This process does not happen overnight and happens over a period of time.  

What is their conservation status?

Cuckoo wasps are considered in the Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN).

Cuckoo Wasp Fun Facts

What do cuckoo wasps look like?

Most species of the cuckoo wasp are metallic blue green and those with coloring are often referred to as emerald wasps. The cuckoo wasp eye color is usually black. Cuckoo wasps have intricate sculpturing on their exoskeleton. These wasps also have wings and legs which are black in color. These wasps have hindwings with no closed cells abdomen concave beneath allowing them to curl up easily if attacked by a predator. Their abdomen is extremely flexible as compared to other wasp species. Females have an abdomen called an ovipositor and is not a stinger. Cuckoo wasps are unique species of wasps and are seen primarily in desert regions.

Cuckoo Wasp

How cute are they?

The cuckoo wasp looks unique in appearance and is small and cute in size however you should not be carried away by this since the cuckoo wasp sting is bad and can cause great pain and stress.  

How do they communicate?

Wasps primarily communicate through pheromones which is like a chemical language and is related closely to wasps. Each wasp species has its unique pheromones which it makes use of to communicate to other species.  While infiltrating a host's hive these cuckoo wasps mimic their host's pheromones in order to blend in without the latter noticing.

How big is a cuckoo wasp?

Cuckoo wasps are 1.2 cm (0.5 in) in size which is ten times bigger than the smallest species of wasps; the fairy wasps found in temperate and tropical regions are 0.21 mm.

How fast can a cuckoo wasp fly?

The exact speed is undetermined however they are fast like other wasp species and are also dangerous if harmed. The cuckoo wasp range is usually in the hottest and driest months of summer and prefers subtropical and Mediterranean climates.

How much does a cuckoo wasp weigh?

The exact weight of a cuckoo wasp is not determined however most wasps weigh 103.1 mg on average. Worker wasps (Chrysis) weigh 10-19 mg.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no specific way of addressing male and female cuckoo wasps, however, there are slight differences in their appearance like males which are more brightly colored than females and they prefer to remain solitary for most of their life unless when they come together for mating. Males also have the ability to sting as compared to females who don't have the capacity to sting as much. Male and female pheromones are also largely different.

What would you call a baby cuckoo wasp?

A baby cuckoo wasp could be referred to as a larva. The female cuckoo wasp lays eggs in other nests and sometimes in multiple nests. Parasitoids feed on the larva of the host and cleptoparasites 'steal' food for her future larva. The baby larva either feeds on other bee larva or is starved to death.

What do they eat?

The cuckoo wasp primarily eats larva and nectar from plants and flowers. Since they primarily reside in deserts they accommodate dietary requirements accordingly.

Are they poisonous?

Cuckoo wasp sting symptoms include redness, swelling, and itching may occur and harm when attacked. They feed on and in most instances kill their hosts. The adults of the cuckoo wasp's potential hosts may recognize and attack them hence they make use of similar pheromones to communicate when around them.

Would they make a good pet?

The emerald cuckoo wasp is not a good pet to keep given that they can be harmful in nature and one should keep a distance from them as much as possible. A cuckoo sting can be dangerous hence it's essential to take necessary precautions to avoid further complications. Precaution measures to be followed include washing the sting area with soap, apply a cold pack, keep the wound clean and finally cover with a bandage if possible.

Did you know...

Not only do cuckoo wasps lay eggs in a different nest they also leave feeding the larvae to the hosts and only check on them sometimes.

James Miller made a documentary titled 'The Dark Story of the Cuckoo Wasp' on these unique species giving detailed information about these fascinating insects.

How does a cuckoo wasp get its name?

Like a cuckoo bird, these insects lays eggs in other arthropod's nests as similarly a cuckoo wasp lays its eggs in another insect's nest and also feeds on the larvae. The host them is responsible to feed their young ones as well hence its name cuckoo wasp.

What happens to cuckoo wasp larvae when they hatch?

A cuckoo wasp, once they hatch, are fed by their hosts and they either eat the other larvae or starve to death. There is no in-between. Parent cuckoo wasp visits from time to time and adopts pheromones in order to avoid being caught and to distract the host bird parent. Although they are dangerous it's essential to understand that cuckoo wasps are essential to complete the ecosystem as well as for sustainable environmental growth, just in the small role it plays. If you are visiting or are in a dry region make sure to keep an eye to spot these unique species and keep a distance to ensure your safety.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including yellow jacket wasp, or paper wasp.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our cuckoo wasp coloring pages.

Cuckoo Wasp Facts

What Did They Prey On?


What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

desert regions

Where Do They Live?

united kingdom, germany, and new zealand

How Long Were They?

0.5 in (1.2cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name


What Do They Look Like?

Metallic green or blue

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

praying mantis and dragonflies

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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