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Pictures of Wasps

What Does a Wasp Look Like?

All wasps have six legs, two antennae, and pinched midsections. However, each species has its own distinct appearance to distinguish them from other stinging insects. For example, you can tell most common Mid-Atlantic wasps apart by their size. Yellow jackets are the smallest (and nastiest), mud daubers are a little larger, and paper wasps are the biggest of the three.

People often confuse wasps for bees. While they have some similarities, these two types of pests have much different temperaments. Certain wasp species can be hostile and being able to recognize them on sight is helpful to avoid attacks. Check out the following wasp photos to learn more about pest identification and the distinctive characteristics of these insects.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow Jacket Illustration

Illustration of a yellow jacket

Picture of Two Yellow Jackets

Side view of a yellow jacket

Image of Wasp

Close-up on the side of a yellow jacket

The black and yellow coloring, slim build, and narrow waists of yellow jackets mean they’re often mistaken for honey bees. However, unlike honey bees, these insects are almost completely hairless and have narrow wings.

Yellow Jacket on the Ground

Picture of yellow jacket

Picture of Yellow Jacket on a Leaf

Image of a yellow jacket on a leaf

Image of Yellow Jacket in Crevice   Image of Yellow Jacket outside Crevice

Images of a yellow jacket entering a rock crevice

Their coloring is similar to bees, but as these yellow jacket images show, their markings are quite different. Males have skinny black stripes, while females have thicker bands along their abdomens. A series of spots and triangular marks give the queen of the colony the most distinctive look.

Image of Yellow Jacket on a Leaf   Image of Yellow Jacket Hunting

Front and back views of a yellow jacket

Only about three-quarters of an inch in length, yellow jackets are the tiniest wasps in the region. They are only slightly bigger than a house fly, and their smaller size allows them to enter buildings through gaps and crevices in building foundations or tears in screens.

Closeup Image of Yellow Jacket Nest   Picture of Yellow Jacket Nest

Pictures of a yellow jacket nest

Yellow jackets construct round, layered nests in wall voids or crawl spaces under houses. Some species build subterranean homes, and a nickel-sized hole in your yard or garden may indicate the entry point for an underground nest.

Paper Wasps

Top View of a Paper Wasp

Top view of a paper wasp

Image of Paper Wasp

Paper wasp with a reddish-brown color

Picture of a wasp   Rear View of a Paper Wasp   Photo of Paper Wasp

Front back and side view of a paper wasp

Picture of Paper Wasp

Close-up image of a paper wasp

Roughly twice the length of a yellow jacket, paper wasps are the largest species in the Mid-Atlantic. Some are black and yellow, while others have a reddish or dark brown hue. They may also have solid sections of color, rather than stripes, on their hourglass-shaped bodies.

Image of Paper Wasp Nest with Wasps   Photo of Paper Wasp Nest with Insects

Paper wasps in their nest

A paper wasp nest can hold anywhere from 12 to 100 insects. As seen in these close-up pest photos, full cells contain eggs and developing larvae. Once the pest matures, they leave the empty cells behind.

Image of Empty Paper Wasp Nest

Empty paper wasp nest

Picture of Paper Wasp Nest Next to a Penny

Paper wasp nest with a penny for scale

Image of Paper Wasp Nest on Ground   Image of Paper Wasp Nest with Three Wasps

Paper wasp nests filled with larvae

Although paper wasp nests start small, the pests build outward until the structure is between six and eight inches wide. Completed nests usually have a distinctive umbrella shape.

Picture of Paper Wasp Nest   Photo of Empty Paper Wasp Nest

Images of wasp nest cells

As you can see in this photo, the nests have hexagonal cells like a honeycomb. Paper wasps make their nests out of chewed wood and saliva, and unlike hornets and yellow jackets, these pests do not cover the combs with an outer shell.

Image of Paper Wasp Next to a Nest

A paper wasp next to a nest

Paper wasps prefer suspended nests, often building them on porch ceilings and window and door frames.

Mud Daubers

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber

Top view of a mud dauber on the ground

Mud daubers have a unique appearance, which makes identification much easier. In contrast to yellow jackets and other wasps, mud daubers are usually metallic black or blue with long, thin waists and a small abdomen.

Image of Mud Dauber Nest   Closeup Photo of Mud Dauber Nest

Mud dauber nest pictures

Mud dauber nests resemble organ pipes and are about as large as an adult fist. As their name implies, the pests make these nests out of mud, unlike the wood pulp used by other stinging insects.

Importance of Wasp Identification

Knowing the physical traits of these different types of wasps is vital when you have a pest issue. The sooner you can identify stinging insects, the faster you can find a safe, appropriate means of control. If you need more help with wasp identification or for nests removal around your home or business, contact the experts at Western Pest Services.

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