Do Birds Eat Wasps? Does It Make Your Backyard Buddies Chu'bee'?

Arpitha Rajendra
Jan 24, 2024 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Oct 28, 2021
Edited by Jade Scott
Male Summer Tanager Eating Wasp
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.7 Min

Wasps might develop stingers and bright warning colors to defend themselves from an attack.

Many wasps species will sting their prey to use it as food for larvae. People are most often stung by these creatures at the end of summer and the beginning of fall.

The difference between the largest and the smallest bird in the world is a lot. The smallest bird is the bee hummingbird, measuring only up to 2.2 in (5.5 cm), and the largest is an ostrich measuring 110 in (2.8 m). Their diet also varies. Small birds feed on fruit, nectar, flies, bugs, bees, and seeds. Any bird that feeds on flying insects will eat wasps so there are several small birds that feed on wasps. As well as birds there are also other natural predators of wasps, even including carnivorous plants. Wasps are relatives of ants and bees and they also share other relatives. Birds include wasps in their diet because of the nutritional value that benefits their health. Wasps will try and defend themselves using their stringers, however, there are safe ways to eat wasps without getting stung. These kinds of birds are skilled to hunt wasps. Wasp larvae are also a food source for birds. Birds will typically prey on docile, solitary wasps and people attract these birds to their property to get rid of wasps.

The wasp family consists of large, carnivore flying insects with more than 30,000 described species in the world. Stings from wasps are rather painful than dangerous, however, in some cases, they can be fatal.

If you enjoyed reading these facts that answer do birds eat wasps, then make sure to read some more interesting facts about bird wing shapes and how to attract hummingbirds to feeders here at Kidadl.

Do birds get stung by wasps?

Yes, birds do get stung by wasps.

Hornets and wasps are easily differentiated by their narrow waist (known as petiole) with the lower abdomen more pointed when compared to a bumblebee or bee. You can also find these species in different colors from red and bright yellow to metallic blue. An attack from these stinging insects on birds depends on the situation and circumstances. These animals will mostly sting due to a lack of food resources in summer. When there is no food source available they typically start scavenging for fruit, leftovers, juices, or bird feeders. If wasps' nests are disturbed, they will sting and if these animals are attacked or threatened, they will sting. . These species sting to protect the nest and any possible food in it. The pheromones present in the sting attract other wasps.

Natural Predators Of Wasps

Natural predators of wasps other than birds include amphibians, reptiles (like lizards), plants, robber flies, mammals, and other invertebrates like spiders and dragonflies.

Some invertebrates tend to ignore the warning signs and prey on wasps. Some of these include robber flies, centipedes, spiders, praying mantis, and hornets. Yellowjacket wasps prey on the other yellow jacket animals. Amphibians and reptiles like salamanders, frogs, toads, lizards, and geckos will feed on wasps and can also eat the nest with larvae inside. Mammals like badgers, black bears, weasels, mice, and stoats also prey on wasps. Badgers and black bears can destroy an entire colony of wasps to reach the larvae and eggs. In addition to honey, bears must also eat animals for nutrition. The most popular carnivorous plants are pitcher plants and sundews. Sarracenia is a pitcher plant species that specifically eat Asian hornets. This plant produces pheromones and nectar to attract Asian hornets. Once the hornets land on the pitcher leaves' rim, they will move closer to the inside edge, and hornets will slip and fall into the leaf where they are digested. Asian hornets are invasive in France and are a threat to native bees.

Sparrow standing on a stone wall eating a wasp

What are some birds that eat wasps safely?

Birds that eat wasps include mockingbirds, honeyeaters, cardinals, swallows, catbirds, blackbirds, sparrows, bee-eaters, tanager, orioles, robins, wrens, starlings, warblers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and blue jays.

Although wasps are predators, they are not at the top of the food chain. Mockingbirds prefer eating wasps and honeybees, and they can be found around nests or beehives. Honeyeaters feed on anything they come across. Not only do they love nectar but also wasps and honeybees whenever possible. Cardinals will feed on insects from under the leaves or flowers of a tree. Tanagers enjoy feeding on paper wasps, yellow jackets, bumblebees, mud daubers, and honeybees. Blackbirds are found around flowers where they catch an insect in flight. Bees and wasps provide the required supplement in the diet of orioles. Orioles feed on 4,000 insects in a day. Warblers catch bees and wasps in flight and they also feed on a variety of insects. Sparrows wait for either a bee or wasp to land on a flower before attacking them. If a bee or wasp flies around wrens, these birds will swoop down to catch the insect. Wrens will then carry the insect to a place where they can feed in peace. If birds sense attacking cicada killer wasps, they will feed on these wasps.

How do birds eat wasps safely?

Birds eat wasps safely by targeting solitary wasps away from the nest of the wasp group.

Birds are not immune to the stings from the stinger of an insect, however, they have evolved to hunt and kill these insects without getting stung. Insects are a part of a bird's diet alongside fruit, nectar, flies, bugs, bees, and seeds. Birds tend to attack solitary wasps' nests so that they do not have to worry about getting stung by any other wasps. A solitary wasp, like the mud dauber, is often the preferred prey. A tanager bird will get hold of a wasp or bee in mid-flight and then grind the insect into a tree before they can feed. Birds have thick feathers, which block the stinger from getting through to the body. In addition, some feathers will secret a chemical to confuse wasps.

Pest wasps that are around your garden or yard are social wasps. You can attract birds to your yard or garden by placing bird seeds in a feeder, and providing them with bathing, and drinking water. You can also plant shrubs for birds to forage in. Birds are a great way to control these pests, however, this method might not work all the time as some birds might prefer other non-stinging insects and pests such as spiders. Other birds like fruit-eaters can also be attracted to your yard or garden and these species can cause damage.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion for do birds eat wasps, then why not take a look at do bluebirds migrate or slaty-headed parakeet facts?

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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