Wasps are predatory insects that fall under the order Hymenoptera and the suborder Apocrita. Unlike ants and bees who also fall under the suborder Apocrita, wasps sting their potential predators. Wasps appear to be sleek, having a smooth exoskeleton, legs with few hairs and wings. They have mouth parts used for biting and antennae. Wasps comprise more than 10,000 kinds of species. They are divided into solitary wasps and social wasps and the majority of them are solitary wasps. Solitary wasps fall under the superfamilies Chrysidoidea, Apoidea and Vespoidea and social wasps fall under the family Vespidae.
Now let’s look at the life cycle of wasp to get a better understanding.
Life Cycle of Wasp:
1) Queen lays Eggs:
The fertilized female wasp queen hibernates during the winter season. The queen wasps emerge after their hibernation period is over and start building a nest for themselves. The queen wasp chews wood materials and spits the remaining parts, which is used for making the nest. The queen wasp builds small cells and lays 200 to 300 eggs in a day. Wasps do not reuse their nests and make new nests every year. Hence, we do not see active wasp nests during the spring season. Wasps depend on nectar from plants and flowers and contribute to the pollination of plants.
2) Nest Building:
During this stage, the wasps are building their nests and colonies. The wasp chews wood material, mixes it with saliva to create a paste, which is used as a material to build the nest. The eggs laid inside the nest are fertilized by stored sperms by queen wasp. During this stage, the size of the nest gets bigger as more wasps join the colony. Sterile wasps emerge and help in building the nest.
3) Colony Expansion:
As the number of wasps born to the queen increases, the queen lays her last eggs. Fertile male and female wasps emerge from these eggs. The male wasps migrate out of the nest, mate and die later. The female wasps after mating undergo hibernation with the sperms to make another nest in the following summer. Hence, the reproduction process begins again.
4) Colony Declination:
As the winter approaches, the fertilized female wasps search for another location to hibernate. During this stage, the nest is the biggest and all the larvae have pupated by now. The group of worker wasps feed on the sugar solution provided by the larvae. Once all the larvae have pupated, the worker wasps are devoid of food and go outside the nest looking for alternate food items. As winter approaches, all the food sources are over and the new hibernating queen wasps die. When it’s spring season, the whole cycle repeats again.
Wasps are considered notorious of all insects as it stings human beings. But, most of the wasps are solitary wasps, hence they do not sting. Almost all pest insects are preyed by some species of wasps. Wasps are good at controlling pest pollution and therefore, many agriculture industries use wasps to curb pest infestation.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Wasp Life Cycle
How are wasps different from bees?
Wasps have pointed lower abdomen and pointed waist known as petiole. Petiole separates the abdomen from the thorax. In behaviour, wasps are more aggressive in nature compared to bees. And wasps can sting several times, whereas a bee can sting only once.
What do wasps eat?
Wasps eat nectar, fruits, insects and sugar.
What happens if you kill a wasp?
If you come across a wasp and plan to kill it, do not do it. Once a wasp dies it releases a chemical that signals the rest of the wasp clan to become alert. The other wasps might also get more aggressive at this point, so it is best to leave wasps alone.