North Carolina is home to various types of wasps, and it’s important to be aware of these different species if you live in the area.
From the common paper wasp to the much more dangerous cicada killer wasp, understanding the types of wasps in North Carolina can help you better protect yourself and your family from potential stings or danger.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different types of wasps native to North Carolina and what you should know about each one.
1. Metric Paper Wasp
Metric paper wasps are one of the most common types of wasps in North Carolina. These wasps are generally black and yellow with distinctive patterns on their bodies. Their nests usually consist of several combs attached to a single stalk, often found under eaves or in shrubs.
Metric paper wasps are social wasps, meaning they live in colonies and cooperate to raise their young and protect their nests. While they can become aggressive if provoked, they rarely sting humans unless threatened.
2. European Hornet
The European Hornet, one of the most commonly found types of wasps in North Carolina, is a large yellow and brown insect. It typically nests in hollow trees, although it can also be found in attics or other sheltered places. It is the only true hornet found in the United States.
The European Hornet is about two inches long and typically yellow and brown. It has a characteristic dark line along its back. The European Hornet feeds on other insects, such as caterpillars, flies, and plant material.
It will also scavenge for food sources if necessary. They are particularly drawn to sweet liquids, such as fruit juices and honeydew. European Hornets are social wasps, meaning they live in colonies with other members of their species.
These types of wasps in North Carolina are most active during the day but can also be seen at night. Their nests are built from a paper-like substance produced by the worker wasps and consist of multiple cells and a single entrance.
If you encounter a European Hornet nest, it’s best to leave it alone and let nature take its course. If you need to remove the nest, use caution and wear protective clothing such as a beekeeping suit.
3. Eastern Yellowjacket
Eastern Yellowjackets are one of the most common types of wasps in North Carolina. They are known for their bright yellow and black stripes, which makes them quite recognizable. As their name suggests, they are usually found in the eastern United States.
These types of wasps in North Carolina are social insects that live in large colonies, typically around the ground or near low trees and shrubs. They will aggressively defend their nest if disturbed. Eastern Yellowjackets are omnivores, meaning they feed on plant and animal matter. Common sources of food for them include fruits, honeydew, and small insects.
These types of wasps in North Carolina also scavenge human food sources, so they may be a nuisance to outdoor activities such as picnics or barbecues. It is best to take caution when encountering these wasps and keep a safe distance.
4. Dark Paper Wasp
One of the more commonly seen types of wasps in North Carolina is the Dark Paper Wasp. These wasps have black-brown bodies and yellow markings on their wings. They typically measure between 3/4 to 1 inch in length and are mostly found in the eastern regions of the state.
The dark paper wasp builds its nest in sheltered locations, such as in hollow tree trunks or eaves of buildings, using chewed plant matter to construct the nest. They feed on nectar and other insects and can be seen actively foraging during the summer months. These wasps may sting if disturbed or threatened. However, they are not typically aggressive and pose little danger to humans.
5. Blue-Winged Scoliid Wasp
This wasp species is one of the wasps found in North Carolina. The Blue-Winged Scoliid Wasp (Scolia dubia) is a small- to medium-sized solitary wasp, reaching a length of up to 3/4 inch. Its body is black and yellow, and its wings are dark blue with light blue spots at their bases.
This species is mainly found in sandy habitats such as dry dunes, savannas, and grasslands. These types of wasps in North Carolina feed on flower nectar and prey on scarab beetle larvae. It is beneficial to have these wasps around as they are an effective predator of agricultural pests. If you spot a Blue-Winged Scoliid Wasp, it would be wise to leave it alone unless it threatens your safety.
6. Guinea Paper Wasp
The Guinea Paper Wasp is one of the most common types of wasps in North Carolina. This species gets its name from its yellow and black stripes, which resemble a guinea fowl’s feathers. The wasp is approximately 0.7 to 1.1 inches long and has a black and yellow-striped abdomen.
Guinea Paper Wasps usually nest near human dwellings, so it’s important to be aware of them when around the home. They are beneficial insects, as they are known to feed on soft-bodied insects, such as aphids and caterpillars, helping to control pest populations.
7. Gold-Marked Thread-Waisted Wasp
Gold-Marked Thread-Waisted Wasps are one of the many types of wasps found in North Carolina. They are small and easily identified by their black and yellow color pattern. This species of wasp has a thin waist and narrow legs, making it look like it is wearing a belt around its waist.
These types of wasps in North Carolina feed on other insects, including moths and caterpillars, to help reduce the number of pests in your garden. Gold-Marked Thread-Waisted Wasps can sometimes be seen hovering around flowers looking for nectar, so they are also beneficial pollinators. They also create nests that hang from branches or vegetation and can live in colonies of up to 50 individuals.
8. Wool Sower Gall Wasp
One of the more unusual types of wasps in North Carolina is the Wool Sower Gall Wasp. This wasp species creates distinctive gall-like structures made from wool and silk on different plants, usually oak trees. The female wasps lay their eggs inside these galls, which then hatch and provide food for the larvae until they emerge as adults.
These galls are harmless to humans and animals, but they do cause some damage to the host tree. They can weaken or kill the plant over time, so if you have a Wool Sower Gall Wasp infestation on your property, it’s important to contact a professional pest control service to get rid of it.
9. Eastern Cicada-Killer Wasp
One of the types of wasps in North Carolina is the Eastern Cicada-Killer Wasp. These large and impressive wasps can be found in the state from June to October. They have long, thin bodies, usually rusty brown with yellow markings on the abdomen.
The wings are transparent, and there is a black patch near the base of the wing. The Eastern Cicada-Killer Wasp primarily feeds on cicadas and other insects. It has a powerful sting, although it is not usually aggressive. Females use their stinger to paralyze prey, which is stored in an underground nest for the larva to feed on.
Males do not have stingers and are not able to sting. These types of wasps in North Carolina can be beneficial because they help to control cicada populations. While they are capable of stinging, they will only do so if they are threatened or provoked. Therefore, they should not be feared and may even be appreciated for their work.
10. Bald-Faced Hornet
The Bald-Faced Hornet is one of the most common types of wasps in North Carolina. This wasp species is identified by its white and black coloration, hence its name. It builds a paper nest suspended from a tree or shrub. These wasps will sting if provoked and can be quite aggressive when defending their nest. It is important to stay away from any Bald-Faced Hornets’ nests, as they can cause a severe reaction in some people if stung multiple times.
11. Four-Toothed Mason Wasp
The Four-Toothed Mason Wasp is one of the many types of wasps found in North Carolina. These wasp species are solitary, meaning they do not form colonies like other wasps. This species has a black body and can grow up to a size of about 1 inch in length. The wings are reddish brown, and the legs are yellow.
These types of wasps in North Carolina have four teeth on their mandibles which is how they got their name. The female builds mud nests on trees or buildings and uses them to lay her eggs. The larvae feed on caterpillars, wood-boring insects, and even spiders. It is important to note that the Four-Toothed Mason Wasp is not aggressive, and they do not sting unless they feel threatened.
12. Southern Yellowjacket
The Southern Yellowjacket is one of the most common types of wasps in North Carolina. This species is a yellow-and-black striped social wasp that typically lives in colonies located in the ground or inside wall voids, though they are sometimes found in trees and other cavities.
These types of wasps in North Carolina feed on insects and plant material and scavenge on food sources. While they can become aggressive if their nest is disturbed, they also benefit humans by consuming large quantities of insect pests. The Southern Yellowjacket can be identified by its black head, yellow and black striped abdomen, and short antennae.
13. Double-Banded Scoliid Wasp
The double-banded scoliid wasp is found in North Carolina and is mainly active during the spring and summer. They get their name from the two yellow bands running along their black body. The double-banded scoliid wasp grows to be approximately 1 inch long.
These types of wasps in North Carolina species is a beneficial insect because it helps control pest populations such as grasshoppers, crickets, and cockroaches. While they are typically non-aggressive, they can become quite defensive when provoked and will sting if necessary. It’s important to be mindful of this type of wasp if you come across it in your garden or near your home.
14. Great Black Digger Wasp
The Great Black Digger Wasp is one of the most commonly seen types of wasps in North Carolina. It’s a large black wasp with yellow markings on its abdomen, and it is usually found in wooded areas and gardens.
The Great Black Digger Wasp feeds on the larvae of other insects, such as caterpillars, beetles, and aphids. They dig tunnels in the ground where they lay their eggs. The tunnels can be up to 3 feet long. The adult female wasps create the tunnels and provide food for the developing larvae.
15. Noble Scoliid Wasp
The Noble Scoliid Wasp is a type of wasp found in North Carolina. It has an elongated, black body with yellow and black wings and is typically between 0.7 to 1 inch long. This species is common in the Coastal Plain and is attracted to flowers for nectar.
The Noble Scoliid Wasp is not aggressive and rarely stings humans unless provoked. These types of wasps in North Carolina can hover around flower beds in late summer, looking for food sources.
16. Great Golden Digger Wasp
The Great Golden Digger Wasp is one of the many types of wasps found in North Carolina. This species is known for its metallic golden-yellow coloring and large size. They are solitary hunters, meaning they live alone and do not build nests or form colonies.
These types of wasps in North Carolina prefer to burrow into the ground in search of caterpillars, spiders, and other arthropods, which they then paralyze with their sting and use as food for their young. They can also be found hovering around flowers in search of nectar.
As with all wasps, the Great Golden Digger Wasp can sting humans if it feels threatened. If disturbed, it will usually fly away rather than sting.
17. Fraternal Potter Wasp
The Fraternal Potter Wasp is one of the types of wasps found in North Carolina. This species is a solitary wasp, meaning they do not form colonies and live alone in their nest. They have black and white stripes on their abdomens and bright yellow wings.
These types of wasps in North Carolina typically measure about half an inch in length. The Fraternal Potter Wasp mainly feeds on caterpillars and is usually found near trees and shrubs. They build nests made of mud about two inches wide and two to three inches deep. They can often be seen flying in a zig-zag pattern around the yard.
18. Feather-Legged Scoliid Wasp
The Feather-Legged Scoliid Wasp is among the types of wasps in North Carolina. These wasps are small, black, and yellow with long feathery antennae and white spots. They are solitary and rarely sting humans.
These types of wasps in North Carolina feed on grubs, larvae, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied insects such as aphids. They are commonly found in gardens and around trees, feeding on their prey. They can benefit humans because they help control pests that could otherwise damage crops.
19. Organ-Pipe Mud-Dauber Wasp
The Organ-Pipe Mud-Dauber Wasp is one of the many types of wasps in North Carolina. This species is characterized by its long, thin body and black and yellow stripes. It prefers to build its nest in sheltered areas such as in the crevices of rocks or tree trunks.
The nest is made of small balls of mud packed tightly together. The female wasp will use this mud to form the tubes that make up the nest, hence the name Organ-Pipe Mud-Dauber Wasp. This species hunts for spiders, paralyzing them with its sting before dragging them back to its nest to feed its larvae.
20. Yellow-Legged Mud-Dauber Wasp
The yellow-legged mud-dauber wasp (Sceliphron caementarium) is a species of mud-dauber wasp that can be found in North Carolina. These types of wasps in North Carolina build nests out of the mud and lays eggs on spiders, serving food for the wasp’s young. It has bright yellow legs, a black abdomen with yellow markings, and an overall length of 3/4 inch.
The female yellow-legged mud-dauber will collect mud from the ground and mix it with saliva to make her nest. She then hunts for spiders, paralyzing them before she brings them back to the nest where she lays her eggs. Once the larvae hatch, they feed on the spiders until adulthood.
21. Spongy Oak Apple Gall Wasp
One of the fascinating types of wasps in North Carolina is the Spongy Oak Apple Gall Wasp. This small wasp is found in forests and woodlands throughout the state. It is part of the Cynipidae family and is known for creating gall structures on the leaves of oak trees.
The female wasp will inject her eggs into an oak tree leaf, and then the larvae will feed on the nutrients inside the leaf, causing it to swell and form a gall structure. These gall structures vary in size, shape, and color, ranging from bright red or green to dark brown.
The adult wasp will emerge from the gall structure in late spring or early summer. These types of wasps in North Carolina are usually quite small, between 0.2 to 0.5 inches in length, and have a brown body with yellowish-white markings. The Spongy Oak Apple Gall Wasp can be a beneficial insect as its larvae are a major food source for birds, bats, and other small mammals.
22. Four-Banded Stink Bug Wasp
The four-banded stink bug wasp (Scolia dubia) is a solitary wasp found in North Carolina. It belongs to the family Scoliidae and is easily identifiable by its distinct black and yellow bands across its body and wings. These types of wasps in North Carolina feed on stink bugs, making them beneficial insects for farmers and gardeners in the region.
The female wasp uses her ovipositor to lay eggs inside the body of a host stink bug, where the larvae will then feed off of it until it is ready to emerge. The adult four-banded stink bug wasp can be seen in fields, meadows, and gardens from late spring through early autumn. This species is just one of the many types of wasps found in North Carolina.
23. Hornworm Parasitoid Wasp
The Hornworm Parasitoid Wasp is one of the types of wasps in North Carolina. It is a small and slender black or dark brown insect with transparent wings. This wasp species is an important biological control agent for controlling tomato and tobacco hornworms.
The female wasps will lay their eggs on the hornworm caterpillar, where the larvae will hatch and feed off the host caterpillar. Eventually, the host caterpillar will die, and the new wasps will emerge from the host body. These wasps can be found around gardens where hornworm caterpillars are present.
24. Common Thread-Waisted Wasp
The Common Thread-waisted Wasp (Family Sphecidae) is one of the most common types of wasps in North Carolina. These wasps are identified by their long, thin “waists” between the thorax and abdomen. They are usually black or brown and can range from 1/4 to 1 inch in length.
The Common Thread-waisted Wasp is a solitary species found in various habitats, including gardens, fields, and meadows. They feed on nectar, pollen, and sap. They also prey on other insects, such as caterpillars and flies. The larvae feed on the bodies of the insects they catch and bring back to their nests.
These types of wasps in North Carolina build nests of mud and small stones that they collect from the ground. The nest is constructed into a series of cells, with each cell being provisioned with a single egg and food for the larvae. The adults will also build an outer wall of mud around the nest to protect it from predators.
The Common Thread-waisted Wasp benefits humans because it helps control insect populations. These wasps can help prevent infestations from becoming too large by preying on garden pests.
25. Ringed Paper Wasp
Ringed paper wasps are among the many types of waps found in North Carolina. This type of wasp is typically seen around wooded areas and gardens, often in or near trees or shrubs. These wasps have brownish-red and black stripes on their bodies and yellow markings on their heads and abdomens.
Ringed paper wasps are social insects living in colonies of a few to several dozen individuals. These types of wasps in North Carolina feed primarily on nectar, honeydew, and caterpillars. While they can sting if provoked, they are generally not aggressive toward humans and are beneficial for controlling pest populations.
26. Katydid Wasp
Katydid wasps are among the many types of wasps found in North Carolina. These large insects belong to the family Tachinidae and typically measure between 11 to 16 millimeters in length. Katydid wasps have black bodies with white or yellowish stripes, and their wings are often patterned in various colors.
Their larvae are parasitic and feed on insects such as grasshoppers and katydids. These types of wasps in North Carolina benefit farmers and gardeners, as they help control pests like grasshoppers.
North Carolina is home to various types of wasps, many of which benefit the environment. Many species are found in the state, from Feather-Legged Scoliid Wasps to Katydid Wasps.
These wasps play an important role in keeping pests in check, providing pollination services, and helping to keep ecosystems healthy.
By learning about the different types of wasps in North Carolina, we can appreciate their importance and work towards protecting them.