24 Different Types of Wasps in Arizona

Different Types of Wasps in Arizona
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Arizona is home to many different species of wasps, which can be found in various habitats across the state.

It’s essential to know that there are many different types of wasps in Arizona.

Each species has its own unique characteristics, so it is important to get to know them if you are interested in learning more about these fascinating insects. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the various types of wasps in Arizona and their behaviors. We will also provide tips on identifying and avoiding them if necessary.

Read on to learn more about types of wasps in Arizona

1. European Paper Wasp

The European paper wasp (Polistes dominula) is the first on our list of the types of wasps in Arizona.

This type of wasp is known for its paper-like nests that are made from a mixture of chewed plant material, saliva, and mud.

They typically have a yellow-brown head, body, dark brown legs, and black wings. European paper wasps also have an orange-yellow abdomen with darker markings.

They feed on flower nectar, small insects, and other proteins. These wasps can benefit gardens because they prey on caterpillars and other pests.

However, they can also become pests themselves if their population gets too large. European paper wasps, as types of wasps in Arizona, are generally not aggressive unless disturbed or threatened.

2. Four-Toothed Mason Wasp

Coming in second on our list of the types of wasps in Arizona is the four-toothed Mason Wasp, also known as Monobia quadridens.

This is a species of solitary wasp found throughout North America, including the state of Arizona.

This species gets its name from its four distinct teeth, which it uses to construct its nest. The nests are mud, typically found on walls or window sills and occasionally in wooded areas.

As an important pollinator, the four-toothed Mason Wasp benefits the environment and plays an important role in keeping ecosystems healthy.

3. Giant Ichneumon Wasp

The next on our list of the types of wasps in Arizona is Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa spp). It is one of the many types of wasps in Arizona.

These insects are usually seen in the summertime and are known for their impressive size and long ovipositor.

The female Giant Ichneumon Wasp can reach lengths up to 5 inches, making them one of the largest types of wasps in Arizona!

The Giant Ichneumon Wasp has a fascinating life cycle. The adult female uses her long ovipositor to drill into wood, where she deposits her eggs.

When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on wood-boring beetle larvae. They then pupate in the wood before emerging as adults.

Interestingly, Giant Ichneumon Wasps are not aggressive and rarely sting people.

Despite their size, these wasps are harmless and beneficial to humans since they help reduce beetle populations.

4. Great Black Wasp

The Great Black Wasp, also known as Sphex pensylvanicus, is one of Arizona’s most common types of wasps.

These wasps are typically black with a white, yellow, or orange band across their abdomen. The body of the Great Black Wasp is slightly larger than other species and can reach up to 1 inch in length. 

These wasps are highly social and live in colonies of up to 200 individuals. They are solitary predators and feed on various insects, such as grasshoppers and caterpillars.

The Great Black Wasp is an important pollinator and plays a significant role in helping to maintain the ecosystem of the desert.

They are also beneficial in controlling insect populations that can damage crops and gardens. 

The Great Black Wasp, on this list of the types of wasps in Arizona, is also quite docile and rarely stings unless provoked. This makes them a great addition to any backyard garden or outdoor space.

With their distinct colors and impressive hunting abilities, the Great Black Wasp is sure to be a welcome addition to any environment in Arizona!

5. Great Golden Digger Wasp

The Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) is a wasp commonly found throughout Arizona. It can be recognized by its large size, metallic-green body, and long yellow antennae. 

As solitary wasps, they don’t live in colonies and instead focus their energy on hunting prey, primarily crickets, and grasshoppers.

This species also specializes in building burrows underground where they raise their young.

Although they are one of the largest types of wasps in Arizona, they rarely sting humans unless provoked or threatened.

6. Horntail Wasp

The Horntail Wasp, also known as the Urocerus spp., is one of the most common types of wasps in Arizona.

These wasps are black and yellow and can reach up to an inch in length. They are solitary wasps, meaning they don’t live in colonies, and each female lays her own eggs. 

They typically build their nests in dead tree trunks or branches but can sometimes be found in wooden posts or other dead wood.

They feed on beetle larvae and other small insects, which they paralyze with their sting and then lay their eggs on them.

Although these wasps can sting if threatened, they are not considered aggressive and usually fly away from humans.

7. Leucospid Wasp

The Leucospid Wasp (Leucospis spp.) is part of Arizona’s often overlooked types of wasps. These types of wasps in Arizona are known for their unique coloration, with black and yellow stripes.

They typically measure around 3/8 to 5/8 inches in length and have slender, shiny bodies. Leucospid wasps have four clear wings and a short stinger.

This type of wasp prefers to feed on nectar, honeydew, and other plant sources. Their nests are usually hidden beneath foliage or in tree bark and can house up to a few hundred individuals. 

In addition to that, they are relatively docile and not aggressive when provoked. Despite their intimidating appearance, they are important pollinators in the Arizona environment and provide food sources for many birds and animals.

8. Mutillid Wasp

Arizona is home to various wasp species, including the Mutillid Wasp (Pseudomethocha oculata).

This type of wasp is common throughout the state and can be identified by its iridescent green wings and reddish-brown eyes.

It is usually between 5 and 10 millimeters in length, and its body has an oval shape. It has an impressive wingspan of up to 20 millimeters and can fly quickly from one location to another.

The Mutillid Wasp is considered to be beneficial to humans since it helps control other insect populations by preying on their larvae. Overall, it is not left out of our list of types of wasps in Arizona.

9. Noble Scoliid Wasp

The noble scoliid wasp (Scolia noblitata) is an impressive species of wasp that can be found in the deserts of Arizona.

This solitary insect is also known as the noble false digger wasp and is one of the largest of its kind in North America.

It is one of the types of wasps in Arizona and has black and yellow markings on its body and can reach up to 1.5 inches in length. 

The female has a very large ovipositor which she uses to lay eggs in the ground, often near where grasshoppers or cicadas live.

These larvae feed on the other insects, helping to keep their populations under control. The adults feed on nectar and are harmless to humans. They are also key pollinators of many desert flowers.

10. Norton’s Giant Ichneumon Wasp

Norton’s Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni) is also one of the common types of wasps in Arizona.

This wasp is large, with a wingspan two to three inches long. It is black and yellow with long, slender antennae and a distinctive blue-black abdomen. 

This type of wasp is primarily solitary, though they occasionally congregate in small groups.

The females of this species are known for their impressive egg-laying habits, which involve drilling a hole into a dead tree to deposit their eggs. These eggs will eventually hatch into larvae, which feed on the tree’s wood.

While these wasps may appear intimidating, they are harmless to humans and beneficial to their surroundings, as they help control the populations of other insect pests.

11. Paper Wasp

Arizona is home to many types of wasps, one of which is the Paper Wasp (Polistes dorsalis dorsalis).

These social insects are approximately one inch long and vary in color from light brown to black.

The Paper Wasp is the most commonly found type of wasp in Arizona, and they can be seen hovering around nectar-producing flowers and building their nests out of wood fiber and saliva. 

Furthermore, these, as types of wasps in Arizona, have a unique stinger that they use to defend their colonies against intruders.

Paper Wasps have distinctively long thin bodies, slender legs, and transparent wings, making them easily recognizable.

Despite their intimidating appearance, Paper Wasps are actually quite beneficial to the environment as they help pollinate flowers and are natural predators of other pests.

12. Potter Wasp

The Potter Wasp (Ancistrocerus Antilope) is one of the most popular types of wasps in Arizona. This wasp species can be identified by its large size and characteristic black and yellow stripes.

They are often found around flowering plants and other areas of dense vegetation, where they feed on nectar and small insects. 

Potter Wasps build nests out of mud, hence the name ‘Potter.’ The nests consist of several mud-built cells connected together in an intricate lattice pattern and are often found on walls, fences, and other structures.

Potter Wasps are beneficial to humans as they help to control pest insect populations in our gardens and yards.

13. Sand Wasp

Sand Wasps, also known as Bembix spp., are common species of wasps found throughout Arizona.

They are recognizable by their dark coloring and distinctive pattern of yellow and black stripes.

These social insects often live in burrows they excavate in sandy soils, making them a crucial part of the local ecosystem. 

Sand Wasps are active predators, helping to control populations of pests like flies and caterpillars.

These wasps also provide an important food source for birds, lizards, and other animals. Not to forget, they are likewise one of the various types of wasps in Arizona.

Additionally, Sand Wasps are important pollinators of cacti, trees, and shrubs native to the area.

Despite their intimidating appearance, these insects are actually quite beneficial to the environment and should not be feared or eliminated.

14. Scoliid Wasp

The scoliid wasp, also known as Campsomeris plumipes fossulana, is one of Arizona’s most common types of wasp.

These solitary wasps are usually black and yellow in color, with a thin waist and long legs.

They measure between 3/4 to 1-1/4 inches in length and are commonly found in open areas and gardens.

These are where they can be seen digging into the soil for larvae or foraging for pollen and nectar. 

Scoliid wasps typically nest in cracks and crevices near the ground or in abandoned animal burrows.

These are also where they lay eggs on grubs that provide food for the larvae when they hatch.

These types of wasps in Arizona do not sting humans and can even be beneficial to gardens by controlling pest populations.

15. Short-Tailed Ichneumon Wasp

One of the numerous types of wasps in Arizona is the Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp (Ophion spp.).

This is a solitary species that are typically active during the day. The body length ranges from 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch, with a yellow and black striped abdomen. 

They have long antennae and wings that are held flat over the body. These wasps are parasitoids, meaning they lay their eggs in the larvae of other insects. 

They are often found near woodpiles and in shrubs and trees, where they feed on beetle larvae and the eggs of other insects.

While not dangerous to humans, these wasps can be beneficial in controlling pest populations.

16. Spider Wasp

Talking about the types of wasps in Arizona, the Spider Wasp (Entypus) is commonly found in Arizona.

It has a distinctive black and white striped pattern on its body, making it easy to recognize.

This species typically nests underground and can be found in the desert, grasslands, and other areas with a suitable habitat. 

They are typically solitary insects, although they may form large colonies during the mating season.

They feed on spiders and other invertebrates and are important predators in their native habitats.

In addition to their predatory role, Spider Wasps also have the ability to help pollinate plants, making them an important part of Arizona’s natural ecosystem.

17. Squarehead Wasp

The squarehead wasp (Ectemnius spp.) is a type of wasp found in the desert areas of Arizona. These wasps are generally black and yellow with an elongated head, hence their name.

The squarehead wasp builds its nests in the crevices of rocks and prefers to remain undisturbed. Coupled with that, they feed on insects such as caterpillars, beetles, and aphids.

These are types of wasps in Arizona that are not aggressive, but if disturbed, they will sting and can inflict a painful bite. It is best to leave these creatures alone and admire them from a distance.

18. Thread-Waisted Wasp

Thread-waisted wasps, belonging to the genus Ammophila, are a type of solitary wasp that are commonly found in Arizona.

This species of wasp typically measures between 0.5 and 1.25 inches in length, making them quite small compared to other types of wasps in Arizona.

The abdomen of these wasps is reddish-brown with black stripes, and the front of the thorax is covered in yellow hairs.

These wasps use their thread-like waists to capture and paralyze caterpillars and grasshoppers, which they then carry back to their burrows to feed their larvae.

Thread-waisted wasps are also known for their impressive nest-building skills, and they can construct nests that range from several inches to several feet in length. 

The nests are made out of the mud and dried plant material, which can take up to two weeks to complete.

Thread-waisted wasps, on our list of the types of wasps in Arizona, typically nest in dry areas such as dunes and dry, cracked soil.

19. Weevil Wasp

One of the types of wasps in Arizona is the Weevil Wasp, otherwise known as Cerceris spp.

This type of wasp is usually black or dark brown in color and can be seen living and nesting in the state‘s desert regions.

The Weevil Wasp measures about one inch in length and has a distinctive curved abdomen, making it easily recognizable. 

This wasp species typically feed on ground-dwelling weevils, which is why it is commonly referred to as the Weevil Wasp.

Although this type of wasp can sometimes sting humans if provoked, their venom is usually not strong enough to cause real harm.

The Weevil Wasp is an important part of the Arizona ecosystem, and they should be respected and left alone whenever possible.

20. Cuckoo Wasp

There are several types of wasps in Arizona, and the cuckoo wasp is one of them, and it is both fascinating and impressive.

These solitary wasps can range from 2 to 25 mm in size and have a variety of body shapes and colors, including metallic blues and greens.

They are named for their ability to cuckoo their eggs into other insect species’ nests to benefit their offspring. 

While they may look intimidating, they generally don’t cause any harm to humans. They can even act as natural pest controllers since they feed on aphids and other small insects.

The cuckoo wasp is an important part of Arizona’s ecosystem and one that should be appreciated and respected.

21. Common Thread-Waisted Wasp

The Common Thread-waisted Wasp (Ammophila procera) is a type of wasp found in Arizona that is widely known for its long, thin waist.

It is typically seen in low desert areas and is most active during summer. The female of the species can reach up to an inch in length, while the males are slightly smaller.

Of the types of wasps in Arizona, this wasp is mostly black, with some yellowish stripes along the abdomen and wings.

The Common Thread-waisted Wasp feeds primarily on flower nectar and small insects, such as caterpillars and moths.

The larvae of this species build small, spherical cocoons that attach to vegetation or other surfaces, often in clusters.

These cocoons help to protect the larva from predators and provide camouflage. As the larva grows, it sheds its skin multiple times until it becomes an adult wasp.

After mating, the female will lay her eggs in these cocoons, and eventually, a new generation of Common Thread-waisted Wasps will emerge!

22. Common Paper Wasp

The Common Paper Wasp (Polistes exclamans) is a type of wasp native to Arizona.

These insects are quite small in size, ranging from about 10 to 17 mm long, and are usually black and yellow or reddish in color.

The common paper wasp, one of the types of wasps in Arizona, has three body segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen. 

This type of wasp builds its nests in sheltered places, such as eaves of buildings, cracks and crevices in walls, and under rocks. They feed mainly on nectar and pollen from flowers, and their larvae feed on small insects.

Common paper wasps are important to the environment since they help control insect populations by preying on pests.

23. Braconid Wasp

The Braconid Wasp, also known as Atanycolus spp., is an important member of the wasp family that can be found in Arizona.

They are a small, slender species, typically black, with yellow stripes on their abdomen.

The Braconid Wasp is one of the most beneficial types of wasps in Arizona, as they are parasitoids of various caterpillars and other insect larvae.

The Braconid Wasp lays its eggs on host insects, typically caterpillars or beetle larvae. Once the eggs hatch, the larva consumes the host insect’s tissues, ultimately killing it.

Because of this, Braconid Wasps are often referred to as beneficial because they reduce the number of caterpillars and other pests that can cause damage to crops and gardens. 

Adult Braconid Wasps feed on nectar from flowers and other plant sources, which helps pollinate flowers and other plants in the area.

These wasps are also often found near human dwellings, as they are attracted to the sugary substances found in food.

As such, it is important to keep food items and beverages covered to discourage these particular types of wasps in Arizona from entering your home.

Many online resources are available for further research if you’re interested in learning more about the Braconid Wasp.

Additionally, you can contact your local extension office or agricultural agency for more information on how these wasps can help maintain the balance of nature in Arizona.

24. Blue-Winged Wasp

Lastly, the Blue-winged Wasp, also known as Scolia Dubai, is on the list of the types of wasps in Arizona. This species can be identified by its large size and metallic blue and black coloring.

The Blue-winged Wasp is a solitary species typically found in open areas, such as meadows and roadsides. 

These wasps are known to nest in burrows they dig in the ground. They feed on other insects, such as caterpillars, and are especially active during summer.

It’s important to know how to identify these specific ones of types of wasps in Arizona to avoid getting stung. 

If you find yourself near a Blue-winged Wasp, it’s best to remain calm and keep your distance. Although their sting can be painful, it is not lethal and poses no serious threat to humans.

The Blue-winged Wasp is an interesting and important part of the natural environment in Arizona.

By being aware of this species, we can help protect them and ensure their continued presence in the region for years to come.


Arizona is home to various types of wasps, some of which may be more familiar than others.

Whether you’re an amateur entomologist or simply looking to learn more about the different types of wasps in Arizona, this blog post is for you. 

We covered some of the common species of wasps found in the state and some of their unique characteristics.

So read the guide above to get to know various types of wasps in Arizona.

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