Wasp vs. Hornet – Their Behavior in Late Summer is Weird, Here’s Why [July 2023]

You’re having a few beers with your mates on your deck or having a family BBQ when a swarm of obnoxious buzzing males arrives to ruin the party. You haven’t seen them all summer, and all of a sudden, everyone is upset, swinging their hands and arms in terror. A well-known sound? August is the month to reflect on wasp vs. hornet. “What is the point of this swarm? Why are they bugging me?” You may be shocked by the outcome.

How Many Wasps and Hornets Are Out There?

Were you aware that there are over 9,000 different species of wasps? These include parasites, some of which are so minute that they resemble pinheads. The majority of the 250 more giant wasps are solitary and do not irritate people. These insects are found everywhere. You can be in a lonely country cafe or even New York City and encounter wasps and hornets.

But when we talk about wasps, we nearly always refer to our country’s adversary, the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris). So to understand why these flying yellow striped bugs are so bothersome this time of year, you must first understand their life cycle.

Wasp Life is Short and Tragic

Socially, common wasps are similar to bees, but unlike honey bees, no strategy for storing food has been established to help the colony survive the winter. Only young fertilized queens that spend the winter sleeping survive. You emerge in the spring to build walnut-sized nests where she has laid roughly 20 eggs.

The Queen feeds the resulting larvae until approximately May, when they develop and become workers. She then focuses on further egg-laying and providing the workers, gradually increasing the nest. By this time of year, the nest has grown to around 16 inches in diameter and can house up to 10,000 wasps!

A Wasp in Late Summer is All Play, No Work

Then, in late August and September, there is a significant shift. The Queen stops producing eggs and does not create the pheromone that attracts worker wasps (except some that will be future queens and males to fertilize them).

These workers are effectively rendered obsolete, leaving them unemployed and disoriented. The problem for humans is that, while adult wasps are insect hunters, the meat they consume does not nourish the larvae. Because solid food cannot be digested, they require a sugar fluid to survive in their adult stage. As a result, they are now madly and insatiably hungry since they no longer have larvae to feed on.

Hornets and Wasps Bug You For Food

Wasps enjoy simple meals such as overripe fruit, fizzy beverages, and many more. But, at the end of their brief lives, their hunger drives them to seek simple sugar, just when we use our gardens and outdoor places to consume sweets. So the timing couldn’t be better for them, or worse, for us.

So why are those who panic and try to swat them away more likely to be stung than those who remain calm?

Fight or Flight – Wasps Will Attack

The issue is that they have their pheromone, which helps defend the nest from earlier this year’s onslaught, and it’s essentially a chemical scream for other workers to fight.

If you swat the angry wasp, he will feel assaulted, his rallying cry will go off. Then, suddenly, it all begins, and more wasps are riled up and ready to defend their nests aggressively. As a result, the best advice is to remain calm.

Final Thoughts in Wasp vs. Hornet Behavior in Late Summer

Consider this: the wasp has been working its wings off since early summer, helping keep things lovely on planet Earth. Unfortunately, it’s going to die now. So give it a break, conserve your swats, arrange a modest dish of ripe fruit and meat somewhere out of the way, and let it go out on a lovely sugar high. Don’t, at the very least, kill it.

What’s the deal with the wasps? Without them, life would most likely not exist. Our planet would be overrun by more harmful insects like aphids and caterpillars in the absence of their role as predators.

10 thoughts on “Wasp vs. Hornet – Their Behavior in Late Summer is Weird, Here’s Why [July 2023]

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