Wasps in Iowa
June 21, 2017
Did you know that there are over 30,000 species of wasps around the world? Wasps are one of the most unique and diverse insects. From the solitary to the non-stinging species, the variety seems to be endless. For many individuals, wasps may seem aggressive and terrifying. However, they are actually critical to our ecosystem.
Many people may not know that wasps are divided into two subgroups: social and solitary.
- Social Wasps: Social wasp colonies are unique in that the colonies are started from scratch each year in the spring. It is at this time that the fertilized queen wasps will build a small nest with the help of a starter brood of working female wasps. From this point to late summer, the workers will build and expand the nest for the queen to lay her eggs. By the end of this time, it is common for there to be more than 5,000 wasps.
- Solitary Wasps: The largest subgroup of wasps are solitary wasps. This group of wasps does not form their own colonies. The difference between both of these groups is that social wasps use their stingers strictly for defense, whereas solitary wasps use their stingers and venom for hunting.
Benefits of Wasps
Wasps provide two key benefits. They are excellent pollinators and are actually a very effective form of pest control themselves. While wasps do kill some beneficial insects, that is overshadowed by the fact that they eat an abundance of crop-destroying bugs such as caterpillars, grubs, etc. When it comes to pollination, though wasps do not pollinate as much as honeybees, they are still serious contributors and, thus, are still extremely valuable.
Most Common Wasps in Iowa
Now that we have covered the wasp subgroups let's take a deep dive into the most common species of wasps found in Iowa. There may be a few that surprise you.
Yellow Jacket Wasps
Yellow jacket wasps are native to Iowa and get their name from their black and yellow bodies. This species of wasp is often mistaken for a bee, though the yellow jacket wasp's waist is thinner and more defined than a bee.Yellow jackets fall into the social wasp subgroup, meaning that they have a queen wasp leading the charge.
Signs of a Yellow Jacket Wasp Infestation
The most common way to know that you have a yellow jacket wasp infestation is by spotting their nests, which are typically aerial. The second way to detect an infestation is by noticing an influx of workers around your property.
Similar to yellow jacket wasps, paper wasps are also native to Iowa and considered social wasps. An interesting fact about this type of wasp is that there are up to 22 species of paper wasps in North America alone and worldwide there are upwards of 200 species. Paper wasps have narrow bodies and dark brown coloring. This species of wasp got its name from the type of nest that it constructs. Paper wasp nests are typically composed of plant materials combined with their saliva, which makes them resemble paper.
Signs of a Paper Wasp Infestation
Paper wasps can be aggressive when defending their nest. Therefore, homeowners will know they have an infestation when they see an abundance of wasps around the property or identifying the nest specifically.
Mud Dauber Wasps
Unlike paper wasps and yellow jacket wasps, mud dauber wasps are known to be a solitary species. Given their name, mud dauber wasps are unique in that they prefer to make their nests in mud. The look of a mud dauber can vary greatly. However, the most common colors are either all black or a blue metallic coloring. Mud daubers are a beneficial species of wasps due to their help in reducing spider population, among other insects.
Signs of a Mud Dauber Wasp Infestation
Homeowners need to be careful when it comes to mud dauber wasp infestations. Due to the fact that they prefer to build their nest in mud, it can be easy for homeowners to miss that there is a nest and accidentally step on it, mow over it, etc. As with other wasp nests, the core sign that you have an infestation is spotting them around your property.
Cicada Killer Wasps
Cicada killer wasps are one of the largest species of wasps found in Iowa. The body of a cicada killer wasp is yellow and black in color with their legs ranging from a red to orange. This species of wasp is solitary and prefers to construct their nest underground. What gives the cicada killer wasp its name are the female wasps who seek out cicadas throughout July and August. Once the female wasp finds the cicada, they paralyze it with their venom and bring it back to their nest to provide an incubator for their eggs.
Signs of a Cicada Killer Wasp Infestation
The main signs of a cicada killer wasp infestation are their U-shaped mounds. Homeowners will typically spot the female wasps digging around these mounds which are typically found in loose, sandy soil such as flower beds, gardens, etc.
Struggling With Iowa Wasps?
Preferred Pest can help! If you see an influx of wasps around your property, it is important to let a pest professional take care of the issue. Not only will this help keep you and your loved ones safe, but it will ensure that the wasps are not harmed throughout the process. Don't wait until it is too late and you have a serious issue on your hands - give us a call today at (515) 276-7277 or schedule an appointment online.
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