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Wasps are often beneficial to mankind. Humans use several species to control pests populations in industries such as agriculture. Other wasps are predators and help maintain insect populations. Several species function as pollinators and help with plant fertilization.

There are several species of wasps found in Oklahoma including Cicada Killers, Mud Daubers, Paper Wasps, Yellow Jackets, and Red Wasps.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Wasps are either solitary or social. Solitary wasps live alone and social wasps live in colonies in nests. The wasps build these nests by mixing their saliva with wood fibers they gather from their surroundings. Hornets feed on a variety of insects, and therefore are beneficial by helping to control many insect species. However, if these nests are too close to a home, building, or other populated recreational area, control is needed as they will aggressively defend their colony from intruders and their sting is very painful.


Wasp colonies are comprised of workers (sterile females), males, and queens. The survival and success of the colony depends on the queens’ ability to survive the cold weather during winter as they are the only members of the colony that survive the winter.

In spring, the overwintering queens begin building new nests and laying eggs. The eggs hatch and become larvae. The queen continues to build the nest, hunt for food and feed the larvae until the larvae mature through the pupal state and become adults. Then, the queen can focus all of her efforts on laying eggs while the other adults build and protect the nest as well as hunt for food for the remaining colony members.

Mid to late summer, the queens produce eggs that will hatch and become sexually mature male and females. These adults leave the nest and mate. These newly fertile queens will seek a location to survive the winter and start the whole process again.

Signs of an Infestation

The presence of adult wasps and nests are the signs of an infestation.


We recommend that you contact your pest management professional to identify the type of wasps and determine their nesting locations. Then, they will develop a specific treatment plan that is most effective for your situation.

We do not recommend any do-it-yourself efforts to control wasps and destroy their nests. Wasps can sting multiple times and the stings produce intense pain, redness and swelling around the site of the sting. If someone is stung multiple times or is highly allergic to the insect’s venom, they need to seek medical help.

Cicada Killer Wasps

  • They are 1-1 5/8 inches in length

  • They have black with yellow markings on the first 3 abdomen segments

  • They have 2 pairs of wings

  • They have a pinched waist

  • They do not live in nests or colonies like most wasps, instead, they nest in the ground

  • They get their name from hunting and laying their eggs in Cicadas

Mud Dauber Wasps

  • They are 1/2 -1 inches in length

  • They are usually black, but sometimes have pale markings or a metallic luster

  • Their wings are clear or dark

  • They have a pinched waist

  • They get their name from constructing nests of mud

Paper Wasps

  • They are 5/8 – 3/4 inches in length

  • They are brownish with yellow markings, but some species have reddish markings

  • They have pinched waists and wings

  • They get their name from constructing their nests of a paper-like material

Yellow Jackets

  • They are 3/8 – 5/8 inches in length

  • Their abdomen is yellow with black bands

  • Their wings fold longitudinally when they are not flying

Red Wasps

  • They are 1-1 1/4 inches in length

  • They are reddish brown in color

  • They have purplish black wings

  • They build nests with several cells

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