What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

YellowJacket/Paper Wasp or something else?
Thanks for the Reply. We live in Mill Creek, just south of Everett, Western Washington State. We have a bunch of these (20+) flying low all around our front yard. My best guess would be a Paper Wasp or Yellow Jacket, but the coloring doesn’t match any of the pictures I found. Just wondering if we need to have someone come out and take care of them. We’ve check the closest tree and the house eves and don’t see any nests. They don’t seem to go into the back yard, or the neighbors front yard. They are not aggressive at all. They don’t seem to care if we are walking through the yard or not.. Thanks Again..

hi Stephen,
Thanks for writing back so quickly and providing a location. That is so critical with many identifications. We can tell you that this is NOT a yellow jacket nor a paper wasp, but we are not exactly sure what it is and it will require some research. Meanwhile, we will also contact Eric Eaton for identification assistance.

The wasp is an ichneumon wasp, family Ichneumonidae. Pretty much impossible to give a more specific identification without having the actual specimen to look at under a microscope. As larvae, alll ichneumons are parasitic on other insects (spiders in a few cases).

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

26 Responses to Unknown Wasp in Washington State is Ichneumon species

  1. somedude76 says:

    We found some of these in our yard too. They seem to be about 20 of them flying around our garden. They show up in the morning and are active until just before dusk.

    They are not aggressive at all.

    Any information on habitat or nesting that you could share? Do they live in a colony that I could exterminate? Just curious. I’ll probably just leave them be since they aren’t aggressive. I do worry some though since we have a four year old. Don’t want her to get stung.

  2. QuiteBuggyHere says:

    Hi all. We have these in NE WA state as well. I live near Kettle Falls, about 45 miles south of the border. They are quite large! They seem to love my spearmint and I only see them around that. Not as aggressive as the yellow jackets, but they are a little aggressive. What about their sting power? As bad as yellow jackets? Worse?

    • bugman says:

      To the best of our knowledge, these Ichneumons do not sting.

      • Owch! says:

        They may not sting but they sure bite!! Whichever it was it hurt and left a bump that burns worse than any wasp or bee sting I’ve ever had and the burning lasted for about 2 hours. It was the red variety that kind of looks like a dragonfly.

        • BothellBrian says:

          I “found” one of these while sitting in our garage in Bothell (Canyon Park, not far from the original poster). More accurate to say it found me. Not sure if it was a bite or sting, but it got me on the neck and caused me enough concern through the immediate swelling and pretty intense constant and intermittent pain that I went into an urgent care clinic. This happened at 11:45am and it’s still hurting badly at 5:40pm… Maybe more curious than aggressive, but I’d be concerned if our kids were small.

  3. josh says:

    hi my brother and I live in silver furs near mill creek. something bit his leg multiple times and he couldnt figure out what it was. in the truck just now it did it again and he pulled one of these out of his pants. painfull swelling. are these new to the area? can send a pic of it

  4. Becca says:

    I have these as well. Flying low to the ground. They seem to be concentrated near some of my box wood bushes along the fence. I should also mention that I live in Mill Creek as well. Don’t seem to mind me, or my 2 dogs. But I am interested in getting rid of them. Has anyone tried a wasp spray? Or should I call an exterminator to come spray their area? They are completely un-interested in wasp or yellow jacket traps…

    • bugman says:

      We do not provide extermination advice.

      • Becca says:

        Ok that understandable. Is there another resource to find out more about these? Where they nest, are the harmful (minus others previous posts?) If we want to have it identified to know more, is there a place we can bring a specimen?

        • bugman says:

          You should probably try your local natural history museum. As Eric Eaton has stated in our posting, many Ichnuemons are difficult to identify to the species level, even for experts. Ichneumons are important predators that parasitize a variety of other insects and arthropods, and often a species of Ichneumon is very host specific. It sounds like the host insect for this particular unidentified Ichneumon may be feeding on your boxwood.

  5. Jacquline says:

    My 2 year old son just tried to pick up one of the red ones from our dining room window, he’s always picking up crane flies, only it stung him and he screamed bloody murder for about 5 min. it immediately turned into what looked like a white blister with a dot in the middle then after several minutes later turned red. we live in port Angeles, Washington.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for letting us know that there are some species of Ichneumon that are capable of stinging. Most are harmless.

  6. Lisa says:

    The photos Stephen posted in 2008 are great. We have the same wasps in our front yard in Lacey, WA. I’d never seen them before and was happy to find out what they are via whatsthatbug.com. Thank you. I don’t know how to post a pic on here or I would share my wasps with you.

  7. jamie says:

    i have these all over in my yard in seatac, wa. just sprayed one in my windowsill if you want it i can mail it. doesn’t look to have a stinger and don’t seem to mind us. they have been around for a couple years and i would like to control them a bit.

    • Stephanie says:

      Jamie, I live in Renton, WA and I’ve been seeing these guys parade my front and back yard since last summer. I would like to control them too, but I have no idea where the nest is. I thought it could have been underground, so I had Scott’s Lawn service come and spray the grass with insecticides, yet it did not affect them at all. I do notice they parade a plant bush that I have, so maybe they are feeding off of that. I caught one and took a picture of it, so I will submit it. Did you find any way to get rid of them yet?

  8. stephanie says:

    I have several of these wasps in a plastic bag because I was trying to figure out what they were.

    Puyallup, Wa

    • Stephanie says:

      What’s That Bug actually answered my question in another post! They are called Ichneumon Wasps and they feed off of parasites in your lawn. I’ve noticed that I had lots of crane fly larvae in the grass, so ever since I went and sprayed insecticides all over my lawn, they’ve disappeared. Hope this helps!

      Renton, WA

    • Stephanie says:

      What’s That Bug actually answered my question in another post! They are called Ichneumon Wasps and they feed off of parasites in your lawn. I’ve noticed that I had lots of crane fly larvae in the grass, so ever since I went and sprayed insecticides all over my lawn, they’ve disappeared. Hope this helps!

  9. Mitch says:

    Last night I had one repeatedly bang into the window, I think because of the bathroom light. It scared the you know what out of me no pun intended .
    Anyway it seemed very aggressive. Filmed it but wasn’t the best video due to the reflection of me off of the window.

  10. Tiffany says:

    Do these by chance grow into this color scheme? do they start off black? I have had these show up in my front yard for the past two years but they only stick around for a few weeks then leave for the rest of the year. I have had them return in the spring but I have black little ones first which leave after a week then these show up about a month later for a couple weeks. Just trying to figure out what they are and if I need to worry about them since I need to walk through them to get to my car every morning. Thanks.

  11. Anne Demeter says:

    I am very disheartened by a lot of the posters stating that they were not bothered by these, but then they sprayed insecticide all over the place. Please remember that when you spray insecticide, you are not just killing that one bug that might be bothering you, you are killing almost all species of bugs, many of which are pollinators of our food and flowering plants or feed on other, bad bugs. If it isn’t bothering you, please, just walk away and let it do what it does. Especially since it seems like this species doesn’t sting. Thank you!

  12. Ray Pierce says:

    Just saw one,(just one) in NE Tacoma. Best description I could give is a large paper wasp(yellow and black) lazy flying, and had a long tail. So long I first thought it was a paper wasp carrying a blade of dried yellow-ish grass… 4-7 inches long. Freaked me out. 20years living here and never saw one before.

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