How Long Do Wasps Live? Interesting Facts About Wasps | Kidadl


How Long Do Wasps Live? Interesting Facts About Wasps

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Wasps are narrow-waisted insects that are commonly confused with bees.

Though wasps are considered pests as swarms of them can be dangerous and sting people, they are equally as important as bees! Wasps help to pollinate many plants and flowers, many of which we eat as food.

There are many species of wasps, however, those most commonly encountered by us are paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. Wasps populate quickly, and ordinary wasp life typically lasts for only 12-22 days! Males are called drones and mate with the queen, whereas female (though they may be considered as genderless) worker wasps are in charge of expanding the nest and feeding larvae. A wasp thrives better in a warm location, as this insect is unable to live through the cold temperatures of the winter season. To learn more about these misunderstood insects, read on!

If you enjoyed this article, do check out our other pages on why do flies bite, and the rarest animals on the planet.

When is wasp season?

Wasp season is usually between April-October of every year, during the spring and summer months.

As wasps hibernate during the winter, the queen wasp usually emerges with the onset of spring and begins the task of laying eggs. Eggs hatch into larvae and these are then fed by the queen herself or worker wasps. They are taken care of in this way for around three weeks, after which they pupate and transform into cocoons. Once mature wasps emerge from their cocoons, they get to work as worker wasps or mate with queens as drones. Workers are typically in charge of feeding new larvae, collecting nectar for the hive, and making repairs to any damage the hive sustains. Worker wasps can lay eggs, though these are not fertile and will only hatch as drones. The main purpose of drones is to mate with the queen wasp, after which they die.

Will wasps go away on their own?

It depends on the weather if wasps leave on their own or not. As wasps thrive during warmer temperatures, they are quite abundant during spring and summer and can be seen buzzing around, collecting nectar for the hive, and mating in order to create more wasps.

As the cold weather sets in, wasps will become more difficult to spot as most wasps are at the end of their life at this point and are dying of old age, or they are not able to adapt to falling temperatures. Many adult wasps also end up using a lot of their energy to prepare the hive for hibernation, due to which their energy levels drop drastically, causing them to die. Once winter starts, all wasps will retreat to hibernate and protect the queen wasp from the freezing temperatures.

Wasp nests will last for three to four months at most. However, if the wasps are becoming a bother then it would be wise to get rid of the nest entirely. Worker wasps can be quite aggressive when it comes to defending their nests, which can be dangerous if nests are located in a populous area. Though wasp stings are not deadly, they are still very painful and can be harmful to people who are allergic to them. If wasp nests are outdoors, then they must be dealt with as it is unlikely that they will disappear on their own during peak spring and summer months. If nests are indoors, then they might die off on their own as it essentially cuts off wasps from their food sources, as well as dehydrates them which leads to shorter lifespans. However, this does not mean that you can ignore any wasps you see inside your house, as wasp colonies are still very active in the summer months.

To prevent the growth of wasp populations in and around your house (they populate very quickly!), call a professional pest control service as early as possible before the situation gets out of hand. If you see a few wasps around your property, then there is a high chance of a colony nearby.

Paper Wasp cleaning up on a peony.

Average Lifespans Of Wasps

The average lifespan of adult wasps depends mostly on the climate of the area. As wasps are warm-weather insects, they are unable to survive freezing temperatures, which can cause them great distress.

In areas where temperatures fall during the winter months, wasps die off, meaning that they only live for one season at most. In areas where temperatures do not drop drastically during winter, worker wasps may be able to survive past hibernation. Males usually do not live past a single season as they die shortly after mating with the queen. This mostly depends on the types of wasps involved, as with many species, females have very short lives-ranging between only 12-22 days!

Queen wasps tend to have the longest lifespans as they are the only ones to survive through hibernation in colder areas. They may be able to live for an entire year and form a new colony every spring after coming out of hibernation. However, many young queen wasps may pass during their first winter, as the stress of creating colonies as well as the efforts taken leading up to hibernation can catch up to them and cause extreme exhaustion.

Do wasps die off in winter?

Yes, though all wasps hibernate during the winter, only some queen wasps actually come out from hibernation alive.

Once wasps have sufficiently prepared for the winter, they usually have less energy left or are susceptible of dying from old age. In the days leading up to hibernation, many wasps will actually die of cold or due to exhaustion from preparing the hive for hibernation. Wasps which are left alive by the time the queen is ready to hibernate are usually on their last legs of life.

Once the hibernation process starts, all the drones and wasp workers gather around the queen wasp in the center and shiver to produce enough body heat to keep her warm. Since their priority is keeping the queen alive until spring, they end up using all their energy in keeping their bodies moving, eventually dying.

Did You Know..

The wasp lifecycle has four stages-egg, larva, pupa, and adult. However, the larva stage itself has three stages as well!

There are over 30,000 wasp species all over the world, but the most commonly encountered ones are hornets, yellow jackets, and paper wasps.

Though wasps are abundant in urban areas, they have many predators. Many wasps are usually chased by local birds, who kill and eat them.

The average wasp colony can hold around 4,000 wasps, with some larger colonies even housing around 10,000 of these insects!

The survival of a wasp egg will usually depend on its location. The queen will fiercely defend all her eggs, though the eggs that are closer to her receive much more protection in the event of any predators attacking.

Only female wasps and queens actually have stingers! Male insects cannot sting people.

Worker wasps are not really seen as male or female, however, some of them can lay eggs which develop into drones.

Wasps build their nests using wood fiber, which the queens chew into a malleable pulp. A queen usually does this for the first few cells of her nest, which she lays the first eggs of her colony in. Once these eggs hatch into workers, they take over the building process and expand the nest over the course of a few weeks. Paper wasps are named after this phenomenon.

Drones actually live for longer than worker wasps, depending on when they mate with the queen. They die shortly after mating.

Wasps are very social insects and spend all their time together. A wasp can actually die of loneliness if it gets separated from its hive!

Bees and wasps are often related to each other because of their similar shapes and their social hierarchy, however they are completely different insects. Bees are rounder, and typically covered with yellow or light brown fuzz on their bodies. Wasps on the other hand are thinner and covered with distinct black and yellow bands around their abdomens. Bees also collect nectar to make honey, whereas wasps just use it to feed their young. Both wasps and bees are equally important, as they pollinate many plants in our garden.

The final eggs laid by a queen, usually around early fall, hatch into the next batch of queens who will start building their nests in the coming spring!

Unlike bees, wasps don't die after a single sting! Their stings do not detach from their bodies as with bees, which is what usually kills them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how long do wasps live then why not take a look at how long do cockroaches live, or unicorn facts.

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

Tanya always had a knack for writing which encouraged her to be a part of several editorials and publications across print and digital media. During her school life, she was a prominent member of the editorial team at the school newspaper. While studying economics at Fergusson College, Pune, India, she got more opportunities to learn details of content creation. She wrote various blogs, articles, and essays that garnered appreciation from readers. Continuing her passion for writing, she accepted the role of a content creator, where she wrote articles on an array of topics. Tanya’s write-ups reflect her love for traveling, learning about new cultures, and experiencing local traditions.

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