When it comes to stinging insects, wasps (including hornets and yellow jackets) are among the most dreaded in our daily lives. In some cases, this reputation is well-deserved, as a female wasp can deliver multiple painful stings. However, many solitary types, such as paper wasps and mud dauber wasps are peaceful unless threatened.
But one thing often confuses people who discover an active wasp nest: they only ever see full-grown wasps. So what do baby wasps look like, and how likely are you to spot one?
What Do Baby Wasps Look Like?
When we think of baby animals, they’re usually a miniature version of adults. However, this is very different in the insect world. Each stage of a wasp’s life cycle is distinct, and there’s even some variation in the adults of a social wasp colony.
The Wasp Life Cycle
In solitary wasp species, there’s no queen and every female is capable of laying eggs. This is different in social wasp colonies, where female worker wasps tend to a single fertile queen wasp. Regardless of the species, however, there are four stages to the wasp life cycle.
Egg: Whether the product of a solitary female or a wasp queen, the egg is how all species of wasps start out.
Larval Stage: This is the baby stage. Larvae are defenseless and rely on workers to feed them.
Pupal Stage: Similar to butterflies, wasp larvae enter a pupa stage where they develop into adults.
Adult Stage: This is the stage you’re no doubt familiar with.
With the many thousands of wasp species out there, it’s impossible to give an exact amount of time a wasp will take to get through each stage. What is known is that the only larvae you’re likely to see in the open belong to parasitic wasps.
Identifying a Baby Wasp
As we mentioned, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter a wasp larva unless you actually break open the nest. The larvae are also known as grubs and somewhat resemble large maggots. Their translucent to white bodies lack the typical yellow markings you might associate with adult wasps.
As the larva enters its pupal stage, it will begin to form the features of its adult form. The body will eventually darken and reveal its coloration as it approaches adulthood.
Related: What Do Baby Wasps Eat?
Pictures of Baby Wasps
Getting Rid of Baby Wasps
Wasps are beneficial insects. However, the risk of getting stung or having an allergic reaction is enough to warrant removal from your property. Sadly, you can’t target the larvae directly as a means to cull an insect population with the exception of caterpillars or maggots.
The good news is that eliminating the nest will automatically eliminate the babies, with the exception of some parasitic species. It’s best to target social wasp nests at night.
Depending on the species, you might be able to attack using a number of home remedies such as soapy water or a peppermint oil spray. There are also plenty of chemical options including sprays and wasp foggers.
Professional Pest Control
While solitary wasps will often move on when their nest is removed, social wasps are a different matter. Threatening social wasp nests is a major reason these critters have gained a reputation for being dangerous insects.
When in doubt, don’t risk a bunch of painful wasp stings. Call in a professional exterminator to take care of the nest for you.
Summing it Up
Wasps are the victims of many common misconceptions. Since baby wasps hatch inside either an unlucky host or the colony, you aren’t likely to see them. This has led some to believe the baby wasps look like the adults when they’re actually larvae.
When you find a wasp nest, pay attention to the nest construction. This can help you identify if it’s a solitary or social species. Since solitary wasps are usually quite docile, you may want to leave the nest alone. But for more aggressive species such as those annoying yellowjackets, call a pro to take out the nest, baby wasps and all.