Utah is home to many different species of wasps, and it can be difficult to determine which ones are native to the area.
To help you identify the different types of wasps in Utah, this blog post will provide an overview of some of the most common species.
This post will also describe each type of wasp and provide information on where they’re likely to be found and what to do if you encounter them.
So, whether you’re a gardener or a nature enthusiast, this post will help you identify and understand Utah’s various types of wasps.
1. Spider Wasp
The Spider Wasp is the first on our list of the types of wasps in Utah. It is an entomophagous insect, meaning it feeds on other insects.
These wasps are typically black and yellow with black stripes on their thorax and are approximately 1/4-1/2 long.
They are usually seen hovering around plants or walls in search of prey. Their prey consists of spiders, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied insects, which they paralyze with their venom.
The female wasp will then lay eggs inside the paralyzed prey, which is food for the larvae when they hatch.
2. Squarehead Wasp
The Squarehead Wasp is one of Utah‘s most commonly found types of wasps. It is a member of the Ectemnius genus and is typically around 1.5 inches long.
These wasps are easily recognized by their distinct, square-shaped heads and are typically seen hovering around gardens, wooded areas, and fields.
They mainly feed on nectar, honeydew, and fruit juices and are solitary creatures living and working alone.
Though they look intimidating, these wasps are actually not aggressive and will only sting if threatened.
These types of wasps in Utah are considered beneficial as they help control many pest populations.
3. Blue-Winged Wasp
The Blue-winged Wasp comes third on our list of Utah‘s different types of wasps. These solitary wasps are small, with a body length of only 10 to 15 mm.
Their distinctive coloration makes them easily recognizable, with a bright blue marking on the wings and a black and yellow striped body.
The female wasp uses her sting to paralyze her prey before laying eggs in the paralyzed host. The larvae then feed on the dead host, emerging as adult wasps.
This wasp species is known for its effectiveness in controlling pests and its ability to pollinate flowers and other plants.
4. Braconid Wasp
The Braconid Wasp (Atanycolus spp.) is a type of parasitoid wasp found throughout the state of Utah.
These wasps are tiny, about 1/4 inch long, with a narrow waist and yellow or tan coloring.
They get their name from their characteristic behavior of laying eggs on or inside other insects and then waiting for the larvae to hatch and feed on them.
Braconid Wasps are solitary insects and play an important role in pest management by helping to control harmful insect populations.
While they sting if provoked, they are generally not aggressive toward humans and usually fly away if disturbed.
5. Common Paper Wasp
The Common Paper Wasp (Polistes exclamans) is included in the types of wasps in Utah and other states across the United States.
It has a brownish-black body with yellowish bands and reddish eyes.
These wasps are known for their paper-like nests, typically built in sheltered areas like attics or underneath the eaves of homes and buildings.
Additionally, they feed on nectar and small insects, such as caterpillars and flies. While they are not typically aggressive towards humans, they can become defensive if their nests are disturbed.
When disturbed, the Common Paper Wasp emits a pungent odor to protect itself from predators.
6. Common Thread-Waisted Wasp
The Common Thread-waisted Wasp is an impressive type of wasp found in Utah.
They are quite large, with a body length of about an inch, and have black and yellow stripes along their abdomen.
These wasps build their nests in grassy areas or burrow in the ground and usually make their homes close to water sources.
Their larvae feed on cicadas, which makes them great predators of crop-destroying pests. These types of wasps in Utah are often seen hovering around flowers while they hunt for food.
Although they may look intimidating, they are actually quite harmless to humans unless threatened.
7. Cuckoo Wasp
Cuckoo Wasps are a unique species of wasps that are native to Utah. These wasps can vary greatly in size, color, and shape, with some species being very small while others are quite large.
They typically range from yellow to black and have a distinctive cuckoo-like pattern on their wings.
Cuckoo Wasps are predators that feed on other insects, such as flies, spiders, and caterpillars.
They are solitary wasps and can be seen hovering around flowers, looking for prey. They may also be found nesting in underground burrows or on the sides of buildings.
While they are not typically aggressive, they may sting if threatened.
8. European Paper Wasp
The European Paper Wasp is one of Utah’s most common wasps. They are a social species and can nest in sheltered areas, such as under rocks, walls, and trees.
The female wasp is around 1/2 inch long with yellow and black stripes on its body.
This type of wasp creates large, papery nests, which they use to lay their eggs. They typically feed on nectar but can consume other insects and larvae.
The European Paper Wasp is considered a beneficial insect because it helps control the population of pests, such as aphids and caterpillars.
They are a vital part of the ecosystem and should not be disturbed or killed unless absolutely necessary.
If you find a nest near your home, it’s best to contact a professional pest control company to remove it from your property safely.
9. Four-Toothed Mason Wasp
The Four-toothed Mason Wasp is a species of solitary wasp found throughout much of the United States, including Utah.
This species is characterized by four long teeth on its head, giving it its name.
It is typically between 1 and 2cm long, and its body is predominantly black with yellow stripes and orange antennae.
Four-toothed Mason Wasps are also types of wasps in Utah, and they build their nests in wood and other structures, such as wooden beams, tree stumps, and rock walls.
These wasps are important pollinators, feeding on nectar and pollen from flowers. They are also predators of other insects, particularly caterpillars.
10. Giant Ichneumon Wasp
The Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa spp) is a parasitic wasp native to Utah. These wasps are black and yellow, with a body size of up to 3 cm in length.
They prey on wood-boring beetle larvae and use their long ovipositor to inject eggs into the larvae.
The larvae then feed off the beetle larvae, consuming them until they are mature enough to pupate.
These wasps are often seen near dead trees or stumps in forested areas, as they rely on these areas for food sources.
They play an important role in controlling beetle populations, thus keeping forests healthy.
11. Great Black Wasp
Talking about the adorable types of wasps in Utah, the Great Black Wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus), a large, solitary wasp species, is included.
This species can be recognized by its glossy black and yellow body, with yellow markings on its wings and abdomen.
It is known for its aggressive behavior towards intruders, particularly humans.
The Great Black Wasp prefers to live in open areas like grassy fields and meadows, and it can often be seen near flowers or other nectar sources.
It preys on insects like cicadas, caterpillars, and crickets, paralyzing them with its venom before bringing them back to their nest.
The Great Black Wasp is an important part of the local ecosystem, keeping the population of harmful insects in check.
12. Great Golden Digger Wasp
The Great Golden Digger Wasp is an easily recognizable species that can be found in Utah.
This large, yellow, black striped wasp measures 1.5 to 2.5 inches long and has a wingspan of up to two and a half inches.
This wasp is known for its impressive size and bold black and yellow stripes that stand out amongst other species.
The Great Golden Digger Wasp is a solitary species and will typically build its nest in the ground near areas with plenty of flies, such as garbage dumps, compost piles, and barnyards.
In addition to preying on various flying insects, this wasp will also hunt spiders and caterpillars.
As its name implies, this species can use its large mandibles to dig deep into the ground in search of prey.
13. Horntail Wasp
The Horntail Wasp is a large, stout wasp with a black body and yellow-brown wings. They can be found in many parts of Utah and are typically solitary insects.
They are named for their large horn-like tail that is used to tunnel into wood.
On this list of the types of wasps in Utah, Horntail Wasps feed on wood-boring insects like larvae, pupae, and eggs.
While they may look intimidating, these wasps are actually non-aggressive and rarely sting humans.
They are often mistaken for Yellow Jackets due to their similar size and coloring.
However, unlike Yellowjackets, the Horntail Wasp does not swarm or protect its nest.
Despite their intimidating look, these wasps are actually very beneficial to gardens.
They prey on wood-boring insects that can cause damage to plants and trees, keeping the garden healthy and pest-free.
In addition, their tunnels aerate the soil, helping to promote water drainage and good root growth.
If you spot a Horntail Wasp in your garden, leave it be, as it’s more likely helping than hurting.
14. Ichneumon Wasp
Mesostenus thoracicus, also known as the Ichneumon Wasp, is a species of parasitic wasp that can be found in Utah.
Its long, slender body and bright yellow-orange wings make this species easily recognizable.
The Ichneumon Wasp uses its long, thin ovipositor to lay its eggs on the larvae of beetles and other insects.
The larvae then consume the host, nourishing the wasp’s young. While this species may benefit farmers, it should be avoided due to its painful sting.
Protective clothing, such as gloves and long sleeves, is recommended when handling them. Let’s proceed with this list of Utah’s various types of wasps!
15. Leucospid Wasp
Next on this list of different types of wasps in Utah is the Leucospid Wasp, a small, slender species.
These wasps have long, thin antennae and are typically black or dark brown in color.
They have four wings, two of which are transparent and patterned with yellow spots. Their bodies can range from 3 to 8 millimeters in length.
Leucospid Wasps feed on small insects and are active daily, typically foraging in woodlands or grasslands.
They are usually solitary but sometimes occur in small groups. They make their nests in crevices or between tree bark, and their larvae feed on other insects they capture.
16. Norton’s Giant Ichneumon Wasp
Norton’s Giant Ichneumon Wasp is a species of wasp found in Utah and other areas of the western United States. These wasps are large, measuring around 1 to 2 inches in length.
In addition to that, they have black or dark brown bodies with distinctive yellow or orange patterning on the abdomen.
They are parasitic wasps, meaning they lay their eggs inside the larvae of wood-boring beetles to feed their offspring.
Norton’s Giant Ichneumon Wasps can be seen flying in the late summer and early fall, usually during the daytime.
They build their nests in decaying logs or stumps and can be easily identified by their large size and yellow/orange markings.
17. Weevil Wasp
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, laying fertilized eggs inside them. They take off in flight in quest of sustenance for their larvae.
Women’s Weevil Wasps 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 devours the alive, paralyzed weevil or beetle immediately.
When the wasp larva reaches adulthood, it will depart the nest, pupate into its adult form, and leave the nest and the now-dead devoured caterpillar.
We aren’t finished with this list of Utah’s fascinating types of wasps; continue reading!
18. Paper Wasp
The Paper Wasp (Polistes dorsalis dorsalis) is also a species of wasp and is one of Utah‘s most common types of wasps.
This wasp species is easily recognized by its reddish-brown head and body and its long, slender black antennae.
The Paper Wasp builds nests like inverted umbrellas, often made from wood fiber and bits of dead leaves. It can typically be found near buildings and other human structures.
They are social insects living in large colonies and can give painful stings if threatened.
19. Potter Wasp
Potter Wasps are likewise common types of wasps in Utah. These wasps often hover around their nests’ entrances, usually made of small mud tubes.
Potter Wasps feed on nectar and other sweet substances and can often be seen hunting for prey in grassy and wooded areas.
These wasps are considered beneficial to gardens and farms, as they help control pest populations.
They also contribute to pollination, helping to disperse pollen from one plant to another.
Potter Wasps have black and yellow bodies, with wings that may have white or yellow stripes or spots. They also have long antennae and a set of wings.
20. Sand Wasp
The Sand Wasp, or Bembix spp., is a species of wasp commonly found in Utah. These types of wasps in Utah are relatively small and measure 5 to 8 mm.
They have a reddish-brown body with yellow markings and usually live in sandy areas.
These wasps are predatory and feed on small insects like flies, aphids, and caterpillars.
In Utah, the Sand Wasp is most active during the summer months. They use the sandy soil to dig burrows to lay their eggs and make nests.
These nests usually consist of one or two tunnels that lead to chambers where the wasps can lay their eggs.
The Sand Wasp is an important member of the local ecology and helps control insect pests.
21. Scoliid Wasp
The Scoliid Wasp is a common sight throughout the state of Utah, especially in the warmer months.
This species of wasp is unique in its appearance; it has black and yellow stripes on its body and wings and is the largest species in the area.
Its larvae feed on small insects, such as caterpillars, sometimes used as biological control agents to help keep garden pests under control.
As with other wasps, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened and should be handled cautiously.
22. Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp
The Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp (Ophion spp.) is a small, dark-colored wasp found in Utah.
These solitary wasps are typically around 1/3 inch long with a short ovipositor on the tail.
These types of swaps in Utah often have a brown to black head, thorax, and abdomen with yellow or white bands across the abdomen.
These wasps are beneficial predators that feed on beetle larvae and other insects in the soil.
They do not harm humans, so you can watch these wasps as they fly around your garden, looking for food.
23. Thread-waisted Wasp
This is the last on our list of types of swaps in Utah. Thread-waisted Wasps typically have incredibly small waists.
Thread-waisted females: Some have black wings and crimson bodies. Some people are entirely black.
The wasp in question lives alone. After mating, females use their legs and teeth to dig little caves into the ground.
A large, paralyzed caterpillar “cushion” and an egg are inserted inside the opening.
The immobile, live caterpillar is consumed after the wasp larva hatches.
To conceal her prize while it grows and develops, the female fills a tunnel and then covers it with compacted soil.
In arid and semi-arid areas, adults can be seen drinking flower nectar and scurrying across the ground.
They can sting in self-defense and are active during the day but not considered aggressive.
Wasps in Utah can benefit the environment, while others can be a nuisance. Wasps are generally beneficial insects, providing pest control and pollination.
In Utah, you can find different types of wasps: paper wasps, yellow jackets, mud daubers, cicada killers, and European hornets, as already discussed above. Good luck.