25 Different Types of Wasps in Colorado

Different Types of Wasps in Colorado
Image by: depositphotos.com

Colorado is home to various types of wasps, each with a unique appearance and habits.

Not only are these insects beneficial to the environment, but they can also help to protect our homes and gardens.

This blog post will discuss the different types of wasps in Colorado and why they are important to keep around. 

We’ll also explore their ecological roles, the dangers they can pose, and tips on how to identify them.

By the end of this post, you’ll better understand the different types of wasps in Colorado and why they matter. Shall we begin?

1. Spider Wasps

The body of this Spider Wasp species, the starter of our list of the types of wasps in Colorado, is elegant and blue-black.

Orange-tipped dark wings have brilliant yellow-orange antennae for added warning hue.

The female wasp has physical qualities that enable it to compete successfully against spiders of comparable or even greater size, including its size, strength, and ability to sting. 

Men’s size is smaller, and the adults sip nectar from flowers. The female wasp has a tactical advantage by attacking while flying.

The fight concludes after a brief struggle when the Spider Wasp can catch up with the spider and sting it.

The immobilized spider is then grabbed by the female wasp and brought back to a ground burrow that may have housed a mouse.

A deep cell or chamber that the female had previously cut out is at the end of this burrow. She lays a fertilized egg while leaving the spider there.

When her egg hatches, the spider’s larva consumes it while it is still alive and paralyzed.

The larva pupates in this cell over the winter when it is big enough, emerging as a winged adult in the early summer.

Females must gather numerous spiders to serve as food stores since they produce many eggs in a season.

This typically means their appearance is worn out and haggard towards the end of the summer after many successful conflicts.

In lots, fields, parks, and other open spaces, keep an eye out for this type of spider wasp of the different types of wasps in Colorado.

2. American Pelecinid Wasp

American Pelecinid Wasp - Types of Wasps in Iowa
by Scott Heron is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The American Pelecinid Wasp is a species of wasp that is native to Colorado.

This type of wasp is known for its unique appearance and is easily identified by its long, slender abdomen.

This insect is the second on our list of types of wasps in Colorado and can be found in wooded areas, meadows, and other open habitats.

It has black and yellow stripes running along the sides of its body, and it uses its long ovipositor to inject eggs into the bodies of cockroaches, beetles, and other insects.

These wasps benefit their environment as they help control insect populations.

The American Pelecinid Wasp is an important part of the local ecosystem in Colorado as it plays an essential role in controlling insect populations. 

Additionally, these wasps can also help pollinate flowers, which helps grow fruits and vegetables.

These wasps are considered beneficial insects as they help keep pests under control.

It is important to respect the presence of this species of wasp and not attempt to harm them, as they are a vital part of the local ecosystem.

3. Blue-Winged Wasp

Blue-Winged Wasp
by Benjamin Davidson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The blue-winged wasp is one of the common types of wasps in Colorado. It is recognized for its bright yellow and black coloring, and the two bright blue wings adorn its back.

This species is commonly found in lawns, gardens, and wooded areas throughout the state, and they feed on other insects, such as caterpillars, flies, and small beetles. 

Blue-winged wasps play an important role in Colorado’s ecosystem, as they are predators that help to control other insect populations.

These wasps typically measure up to an inch in length and have a thick thorax with a segmented abdomen.

They can be distinguished from other species of wasps by their unique blue wings and yellow body. 

Blue-winged wasps are solitary insects, meaning they do not form colonies like other species of wasps.

Instead, they nest alone in cavities or in the ground, often near food sources.

These wasps can sting humans and other animals when threatened, but their venom is not particularly powerful.

4. Braconid Wasp

Braconid Wasps - Types of Wasps in North America
by treegrow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Braconid Wasp is a type of wasp that can be found in Colorado.

This species is typically black and yellow in color and is characterized by its long, cylindrical body.

Braconid Wasps are mostly solitary and are considered beneficial insects as they are known to prey on other insect pests.

They are one of the types of wasps in Colorado, often seen in gardens and fields and in wooded areas. 

The Braconid Wasp is a parasitoid, meaning it lays its eggs on or inside the bodies of other insects, and the larvae develop by consuming the host.

These wasps are important in managing pest populations and benefit farmers, gardeners, and homeowners alike.

Because of this, it is important to protect these species from being harmed or destroyed by controlling insecticide use in the area.

5. Thread Waisted Wasp

Thread-Waisted Wasp
by cotinis is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The female Sphex lucae has a small waist that joins its red-orange abdomen to its black head and thorax.

Though the small waist is as wide as a thread or hair, the physiology remains functional. Males have only black skin. When extended out, wings have an orange color

Females utilize their hair-spiked legs to draw up loose soil or sand as they dig tunnels into the ground.

In this burrow, fertilized eggs are laid, and the cells are filled with paralyzed caterpillars and katydids that are ready to be consumed by the larvae.

This wasp species may be alone or with other wasps of a similar species. 

Despite being regarded as a solitary species of wasp, this one of the types of wasps in Colorado can be gregarious.

A wasp can sting if its nest is disturbed while a female is nearby or if it feels threatened.

Most of the time, however, nests are constructed away from busy areas, so it is uncommon to encounter violent individuals.

6. Common Paper Wasp

The Common Paper Wasp is a species of wasp that is common in Colorado. It has a distinctive black and yellow-striped pattern, and its body length can reach up to 20 millimeters.

The wings of the Common Paper Wasp are transparent and can sometimes be seen fluttering around the state. 

This wasp species is social and builds its nests in sheltered areas such as under decks or tree bark.

They feed mainly on small caterpillars and other insects but can also take nectar from flowers.

The Common Paper Wasp is a beneficial insect in Colorado as it can help control pest populations in gardens and farms. 

They are also one of the various types of wasps in Colorado, and in addition, they are important pollinators, helping to fertilize plants.

As their nest-building activities can sometimes be a nuisance, it is important to keep an eye out for them to prevent damage to property.

If the nest needs to be removed, a professional should do so carefully.

7. Squarehead Wasp

Squarehead Wasp - Types of Wasps in Iowa
by Mary Keim is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The head of a Squarehead Wasp, on this list of different types of wasps in Colorado, is best described as a rounded cube.

Usually measuring 1 cm, this tiny flying insect is only long enough to sit across the pinky fingernail.

With most species showing vivid yellow bars near the “neck” and a yellow band just before the “waist,” the traditional black and yellow coloring is evident. 

Yellow bands can also be seen on the abdomen. They have short, yellow antennas. Legs are also yellow, with dark feet and black “thighs.”

When resting or moving, the dark wings typically overlap and tuck back over the body. 

Females build their nests in pliable twigs or rotting, soft wood. She captures flies and stores them with her wasp eggs so that they will have a food source when her larvae hatch.

This kind of wasp is tiny and rarely bothers humans. Seek them out in or close to wooded areas.

8. Common Thread-Waisted Wasp

The Common Thread-waisted Wasp, Ammophila procera, is a wasp commonly found in Colorado.

These wasps are black and yellow and are easily distinguishable from other types of wasps due to their long, thin bodies and long antennae.

This species of wasp is known to feed on caterpillars and is considered beneficial as it helps reduce the number of potentially destructive caterpillars. 

They build their nests in small cavities such as crevices and tree holes and generally have a solitary lifestyle.

Although they can sting, these wasps are usually not considered to be dangerous and usually only become aggressive when disturbed or when protecting their nest. 

It is important to understand the behavior of these particular types of wasps in Colorado so that you can take steps to avoid them if necessary.

Common Thread-waisted Wasps should be respected and left alone to maintain their presence in Colorado and to benefit from their natural pest-control services.

9. Cuckoo Wasp

Cuckoo Wasps - Types of Wasps in North America
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Cuckoo wasps, also known as “jewel wasps,” are members of the family Chrysididae and some of the most interesting wasps found in Colorado.

They get their name from their habit of laying eggs in the nests of other wasps and bees, thus “cuckooing” the host species’ offspring. This behavior is referred to as “cuckoo parasitism.” 

They vary in size and color, with most ranging from 2 to 10 millimeters in length and most species being metallic green or blue in color.

Cuckoo wasps are beneficial for keeping other pests in check, such as flies and caterpillars. 

Cuckoo wasps have several distinctive features that set them apart from other types of wasps in Colorado.

They have short antennae and a flattened abdomen, allowing them to easily fit into host nests’ cells.

Additionally, cuckoo wasps have only one pair of wings, unlike other wasps with two pairs. 

The three spikes can identify cuckoo wasps on their abdomens, a unique feature among wasp species. Their piercing, high-pitched buzzing noise can also identify them. 

Overall, cuckoo wasps play an important role in controlling pest populations in Colorado, making them an essential part of the ecosystem.

While they may appear intimidating, they pose no threat to humans and are actually beneficial to gardeners and farmers alike.

For those who want to observe these fascinating creatures, they can be found in gardens and fields throughout Colorado during the summer months.

10. Five-Banded Thynnid Wasp

Five-Banded Thynnid Wasp - Types of Wasps in Iowa
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The five-banded thynnid wasp is a relatively large species of wasp that can be found throughout Colorado.

Its body is black with distinctive yellow bands on the front and rear of its abdomen.

It is usually found around flowering plants and can be seen from May through September. 

They are types of wasps in Colorado with a rather mild temperament and are rarely aggressive unless disturbed.

They primarily feed on nectar and pollen but occasionally hunt small caterpillars or beetle larvae.

They play an important role in controlling garden pests and pollinating flowers and other plants.

11. Weevil Wasps

Weevils and other beetles are hunted and collected by members of the genus Cerceris.

Female wasps dig nests in the ground in regions with loose dirt and sand, such as baseball diamonds, parks, and beaches.

They condense the substance and produce cells, inside of which they lay fertilized eggs. They take off in flight in quest of sustenance for their larvae.

Women’s Weevil Wasps, which are also one of the types of wasps in Colorado, immobilize their victims by biting them.

The paralyzed weevil or beetle is then taken back to the nest and placed within a compartment where it can still breathe but cannot move. 

A newly hatched wasp larva starts devouring the alive, paralyzed weevil or beetle immediately.

When the wasp larva reaches adulthood, it will depart the nest and pupate into its adult form and leave the nest, and the now-dead devoured caterpillar

12. European Paper Wasp

European Paper Wasp - Types of Paper Wasps
by gbohne is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The European Paper Wasp, also known as the Polistes dominula, is one of the most common types of wasps in Colorado.

These wasps have distinctive yellow and black bodies with long legs and antennae.

They are social wasps and build paper nests, typically found in sheltered areas like eaves or attics of homes. 

The European Paper Wasp feeds on various insects, such as caterpillars, flies, and aphids.

They are an important species to keep Colorado’s ecosystems balanced as they help keep the population of certain pests down.

Additionally, they serve as a food source for other wildlife species in the area.

13. Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp

Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp
by gbohne is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Brown or reddish-brown Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp species comprise the majority.

Females still have shorter and less spectacular ovipositors because their abdomens are not as stretched as those of other Ichneumon Wasps.

Legs and long, wispy antennae have a light brown tint. 

Short-tailed Ichneumons, like moths, are drawn to lights and frequently visit residences and places of business close to fields or woodlands.

They are not left out of this list of the various types of wasps in Colorado! Almost all of the Short-tailed Ichneumon larvae Caterpillars are parasites of wasps.

Using the ovipositor, females most likely affix a fertilized egg to a caterpillar. After hatching, a larva enters the caterpillar’s body and eats it from the inside out.

In the procedure, the caterpillar perishes, but the wasp larva stays in the corpse to pupate. From the carcass, it appears to be a winged adult

14. Four-Toothed Mason Wasp

Four-toothed Mason Wasp
by S. Rae is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The four-toothed Mason Wasp is a solitary wasp found in many parts of North America.

It is often seen in yards and gardens, where it uses its powerful mandibles to create nests by tunneling into woody material such as rotting logs and fence posts.

This species is particularly fond of nesting in old wood and can sometimes nest in wood piles, barns, and other structures. 

The females of this species have four distinct teeth at the tip of their mandible, which distinguishes them from other Mason Wasps.

There are also types of wasps in Colorado that are typically black or dark brown in color with white or yellow stripes.

The adults feed on nectar and pollen, while the larvae feed on caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.

15. Giant Ichneumon Wasp

Giant Ichneumon Wasp - Types of Wasps in Iowa
by Kerry Wixted is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Giant Ichneumon wasps are a type of parasitic wasp that is common in the state of Colorado.

These large wasps can reach lengths of up to 1.5 inches and have slender, black, and yellow-striped bodies.

They, one of the different types of wasps in Colorado, are often mistaken for hornets due to their size. 

These wasps are not aggressive and do not sting. Instead, they use their long ovipositor (an organ used for laying eggs) to lay eggs inside the wood tunnels of their prey, usually timber beetles.

Once the larvae hatch, they feed on the beetle larvae, killing them in the process.

The Giant Ichneumon wasp plays an important role in controlling timber beetle populations, which can be harmful to trees if left unchecked.

16. Great Black Wasp

Great Black Wasp - Types of Wasps in Iowa
by AcrylicArtist is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Great Black Wasp is a species of wasp found in Colorado with a distinct black body with yellow markings on the abdomen.

The male’s head and thorax are predominantly black, while the female has an orange-brown head and thorax.

This wasp species can be found near residential areas, parks, and agricultural fields. 

The Great Black Wasp is a solitary predator and uses its long ovipositor to lay eggs in soil or plant tissue.

They are beneficial predators that feed on caterpillars and other insects, helping to reduce their numbers.

Great Black Wasps often hover around flowers, feeding on nectar and pollen. These beneficial wasps play an important role in the health of Colorado’s ecosystems.

17. Scolid Wasps

Female Scoliid wasps are not ashamed to use beetle grubs’ labor to their advantage to enhance reproductive success.

Beetle grubs delve deep into the earth to consume roots and pupate. The females locate a tunnel and sting the beetle larva inside to render it helpless. 

Then, next to the grub’s back, she vertically deposits a fertilized egg.

As soon as it hatches, the wasp larva feeds on the immobile beetle larva, growing and pupating before emerging as an adult wasp in the spring. Nothing of the grub survives.

Adult males and females have different looks despite having comparable markings.

The ragged stripes of yellow on the black abdomen resemble far-off mountain ranges drawn on a night sky.

Males are more slender, while females have plumper abdomens. All in all, they are also one of the many types of wasps in Colorado!

18. Great Golden Digger Wasp

Great Golden Digger Wasp
by Gabriel Kamener is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Great Golden Digger Wasp is a species of wasp native to Colorado and other parts of the United States.

It is part of the Ichneumonidae family, which contains over 6000 species of wasps.

The Great Golden Digger Wasp can be identified by its large size, golden yellow-orange body, and black head and antennae. 

It is also characterized by its long front legs, which it uses to dig burrows in the ground.

The Great Golden Digger Wasp is considered beneficial to the environment as it helps control pest populations in agricultural fields and gardens. 

Additionally, it is one of the types of wasps in Colorado that plays an important role in pollinating flowers. Its diet consists mainly of nectar, pollen, and aphids.

However, if threatened, the Great Golden Digger Wasp will become aggressive and sting, so it is best to be careful when around these wasps.

19. Horntail Wasp

Horntail Wasps - Types of Wasps in North America
by Isfugl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Horntail wasps are native to Colorado and are found in deciduous forests, woodlands, and other areas with a mixture of trees.

These wasps are usually black and yellow, with a white band near the abdomen.

The most striking feature of this species is its long, curved tail, used for digging tunnels in wood for nesting. 

These wasps are beneficial predators and help keep other insect populations in check. Horntail wasps, as types of wasps in Colorado, are solitary and prefer to be left alone.

They don’t generally bother people unless disturbed, so it’s best to leave them alone if you find one in your yard. 

If you encounter one of these wasps, you should move away slowly, as they can sting if provoked.

Horntail wasps are important pollinators, so it is important to appreciate their presence in Colorado’s ecosystems and enjoy them from afar.

20. Ichneumon Wasp

The Ichneumon Wasp, or I. ambulatorius (Ichneumon ambulatorius), is a species of parasitic wasp native to Colorado and the surrounding region.

These wasps are slender, long-bodied insects, typically black with yellow or white markings on the abdomen.

They feed on the larvae of other insects, injecting their eggs into them and feeding on the host insect as they develop. 

This helps to keep populations of destructive pests in check, making the Ichneumon Wasp a valuable part of Colorado’s ecosystems.

The Ichneumon Wasp is an example of a solitary wasp, meaning it does not form large colonies like other wasps in Colorado. 

Furthermore, these wasps are often seen hunting for prey in the early morning and evening when temperatures are cooler.

Though Ichneumon Wasps are capable of stinging, they are not aggressive and do not threaten humans.

They can be beneficial to have around since they help control populations of harmful insects.

21. Leucospid Wasp

The Leucospid Wasp is one of the most common types of wasps in Colorado. These wasps are black and yellow and have a body length of between 10 and 15 mm.

They prefer to live in moist and warm habitats and usually build their nests on trees, shrubs, and other similar structures.

The Leucospid Wasp has a short lifespan and is not aggressive toward humans, but it can be dangerous if provoked.

They feed on small insects such as aphids and can benefit gardens because of their predation on these pests.

The Leucospid Wasp can also be a nuisance because they are attracted to sweet-smelling flowers and can damage fruit crops by consuming their nectar.

22. Sand Wasp

Sand Wasp
by jeans_Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When separating Sand Wasps from other types of wasps in Colorado, large yellow bands and a long, tubular abdomen are useful characteristics.

Sand wasps are not particularly aggressive and only sting when provoked.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, sand Wasps may utilize humans as bait, hovering nearby to capture a fly interested in human sweat or food. 

Even while a Sand wasp may appear angry when it flies close to someone’s face, its main concern is attacking a nearby fly, not the person.

Sand Wasps can be found inland, and along beachfronts and dunes since loose, sandy soil is widespread over the continent and makes for good nesting places.

Females are skilled at digging quickly, making tiny tunnels to house their eggs. 

The female begins by gathering eggs for the nest and then goes fly-hunting to find flies to feed her larvae.

Sand Wasps are useful for regulating fly populations because they eat problem insects like deer flies.

When you recognize a Sand wasp, you can unwind and use a fantastic ally on your subsequent picnic or outing.

23. Norton’s Giant Ichneumon Wasp

Norton’s Giant Ichneumon Wasp, or Megarhyssa nortoni, is a species of parasitic wasp native to the United States and Canada.

This wasp species are quite large and typically brown with yellow markings. It is most active during the summer when it looks for its hosts, including wood-boring beetle larvae.

The female wasp will lay its eggs inside the larvae, and once hatched, the larvae will feed off the beetle larvae, eventually killing them.

While this species of wasp can be beneficial in helping control wood-boring beetle populations, they are not considered to be pests and are generally harmless to humans. 

24. Paper Wasp

The Paper Wasp (Polistes dorsalis dorsalis) is a wasp species native to Colorado and other parts of North America.

These wasps are typically found in forested areas, meadows, gardens, and other open areas.

They build paper-like nests as umbrella-shaped combs attached to trees, rocks, or other objects by a single stem.

Paper wasps are beneficial insects and have even been used in natural pest control.

They feed on nectar and small caterpillars, which they feed to their larvae.

While they can sting if threatened, they are not overly aggressive and rarely do so unless threatened.

Paper wasps can be identified by their black and yellow coloring with a reddish-brown abdomen and are typically between 10-20 mm long.

Their long antennae and narrow waists characterize them. Equally important to note, they are one of the several types of wasps in Colorado.

Paper wasps play an important role in the environment as pollinators and predators of other insect pests.

They also help aerate the soil, which helps to promote the healthy growth of plants. Without them, our ecosystems would be unbalanced. 

It is important to remember that all wild animals, including wasps, should be respected and not disturbed unless absolutely necessary.

If you find a nest of paper wasps in your yard, it is best to leave it alone, as the wasps will often move away on their own.

Contact a professional pest control company for assistance if you are concerned about their presence.

25. Potter Wasp

Potter Wasp
by wildxplorer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lastly, in North America, there are numerous varieties of Potter Wasps.

Some species of the genus Euodynerus require an extensive examination to distinguish between them since they have a similar appearance.

A thin yellow band is visible on the thorax of black bodies just above the waist. Near this region, some species have two yellow spots. 

An additional, simple yellow band is on the bottom of the abdomen, and there is a more ornamental yellow band at the top.

The wings seem to be black. Yellow feet are on black legs. Black antennas are used. Caterpillar hunters are all present. 

Moving on, it is simpler for a female to find an abandoned nest from another species of a wasp than to construct one from the start.

She hunts a caterpillar once she has found a nest, stinging it only to paralyze it. She carries it back to the nest and places it next to a fertilized egg in a cell. 

When the wasp egg hatches, the wasp larva devours the caterpillar, eventually killing it.

The larva pupates and then reemerges as an adult with wings. Because they are not aggressive, potter wasps typically leave people alone. 

Removing wood piles from the house’s exterior can help prevent a nest from being built close to human habitats, which could lead to increased contact between people and the bug.

We will end our list of the various types of wasps in Colorado here!


Living in Colorado can be beautiful, but it also means that you might have to share your outdoor space with some of the state’s native species.

Wasps are one of Colorado’s most common and diverse insect species, so understanding the different types of wasps and their roles in the environment is important.

Here, we covered Colorado’s various types of wasps, why they matter, and how to identify them.

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