Do Digger Wasps Sting? Understanding the Facts

Seeing a wasp burrowing in a nest in your garden or yard can be terrifying. But are these digger wasps really dangerous? Do digger wasps sting, and if so, do they do it on purpose? Let’s find out.

With approximately 103,000 species of wasps in the world, it can sometimes be hard to identify which ones can sting, so most people take the safe route and avoid all of them!

When you find a new type of wasp in your garden, it’s only natural to be wary and wonder if it will sting you.

This article will tell you everything about the powerful stingers of digger wasps, whether you should be wary of them, and how to drive unwanted digger wasps away from your home.

Do Digger Wasps Sting? Truth Revealed

What Are Digger Wasps?

Digger wasps get their name from their nesting habit – they build nests by digging into dry dirt. An adult wasp of this type grows up to around 1.5 inches to 2 inches but may sometimes be even bigger.

There are many different subspecies of digger wasps, and they can look quite different from each other.

In North America, you’ll mainly find two types of digger wasps – the blue-winged digger wasp (Scolia dubia) and the great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus).

The blue-winged digger wasp is unique in its appearance.

The front half of the body is black, while the hind half is reddish-orange, with two bright yellow spots on the abdomen and dark wings.

Great golden digger wasps, on the other hand, have bright amber wings and amber and yellow stripes on their abdomen. Both these species are thread-waisted wasps.

Are Digger Wasps Dangerous?

Although it’s quite common to relate to wasps as dangerous, stinging insects, digger wasps are mostly harmless.

Since they are solitary wasps, they aren’t very territorial and usually don’t attack humans unless threatened. Rather, digger wasps are beneficial insects that can help control the pest population in your garden.

Do Digger Wasps Sting Humans?

The female wasp of this species does have a stinger and is capable of delivering quite a painful sting. However, it’s quite rare for them to sting humans.

As mentioned earlier, they aren’t very aggressive because, unlike social wasps, they don’t have a colony to defend.

Even if you get close to a digger wasp’s nest, it’s unlikely to attack you. However, these wasps might still sting you if you provoke them or make them feel threatened in any way.

Are They Venomous?

Like many solitary wasps, digger wasps carry a paralytic venom that they can deliver through their sting.

They use this venom to paralyze their prey, which is usually caterpillars and other small insects or their larvae.

Next, they lay their eggs on the paralyzed insect and drag it into their nest. They leave it there, sealing the nest behind them.

The wasp larvae hatching from the eggs feed on these live insects to survive and grow.

However, this venom isn’t potent enough to poison humans or cause any major complications. Unless you’re specifically allergic to wasp venom, there’s no reason to worry about it.

Do Digger Wasps Sting? Truth Revealed

Are Digger Wasps Aggressive?

Although female digger wasps can inflict painful stings, they usually aren’t aggressive at all.

While the males are somewhat aggressive and may attack you, they don’t have stingers and can only swarm and ‘dive bomb.’

That said, it is still best to keep your distance from them. After all, you won’t be able to identify a male from a female from afar, and it’s never a good idea to anger them.

Are Digger Wasps Dangerous to Dogs and Other Pets?

If you have pets at home, the presence of wasps can be particularly concerning.

However, digger wasps are as harmless to pets as they’re to humans. Unless attacked, they won’t sting your dog or any other pet.

Great Golden Digger Wasp with prey

How to Find Digger Wasp Nests in Your Garden?

Digger wasp nests look like simple quarter-sized holes in the soil. But that’s actually just the entrance.

They build complex nests with several chambers underneath the soil, about a foot under the ground.

Female wasps cluster their nests together even though they are not social. Usually, there are not more than six in one area.

Although these wasps can dig up to around two feet under the ground, their nests are usually only around six inches deep.

Hence, if you suddenly start noticing such holes in your lawn and have also seen some digger wasps around the house, there’s a high chance that the holes are their nests.

You can usually let these wasps be, but too many holes in an area can damage your lawn by weakening the soil, especially if the wasps have dug a large network of tunnels underneath.

How To Keep Them Away?

If you have digger wasps in your garden, it’s best to leave them be as they’re beneficial predatory insects and kill pests that can damage your plants.

However, if they’re causing too much damage to your lawn or you simply don’t want them in your garden, here’s what you can do.

You need to kill the females and their eggs to keep them away for good. Track down all the nests and mark them during the day.

When the females are back in their nests at night, you can pour some ammonia into the nests.

Watch out for any new nests for the next couple of weeks, as digger wasps usually stick around the same area and may dig new nests if they survive.

Frequently asked questions

Do Great Golden Digger Wasp Sting?

The great golden digger wasps rarely sting humans unless provoked; they use their stingers to inject venom and paralyze their prey.
However, they are capable of delivering painful stingers and can hurt quite a bit if you end up disturbing them. It’s best to keep a safe distance from them.

How do you get rid of digger wasps?

To get rid of digger wasps, find out their nests and pour ammonia into them at night.
This should kill the females and destroy the eggs. If it’s a major infestation and you can’t handle it yourself, you may contact a pest control professional.

What do digger wasps do?

Digger wasps use their strong forelegs to dig nests and build networks of tunnels in the soil. They usually lay one egg in each branch of the tunnel and leave them to hatch.
To ensure food supply for their larvae, the wasps hunt insects like caterpillars, paralyze them and drag them into the nests.

How deep do digger wasps dig?

Different wasps are capable of digging up to more than two or even three feet into the ground.
However, most of their nests are only about six inches deep. They prefer loose and sandy soil that’s easy to burrow into.
The nests have several chambers in them, one for each of their progeny.

Wrapping up

Besides being beneficial predators, adult digger wasps are also good pollinators. In the mature stage of their life cycle, they feed on nectar and help spread pollen.

Although the large size of a digger wasp might make it look intimidating, there’s no need to fear it.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you got all your queries regarding digger wasps answered by now.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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5 thoughts on “Do Digger Wasps Sting? Understanding the Facts”

  1. A strikingly large black wasp with smoky-black wings that shine with blue iridescence, the great black wasp is often seen busily eating nectar and pollen from flowers in summertime. The cicada killer might be the scariest-looking wasp in our state.

  2. I have been watching one of those for a few days, it’s been ravaging the Gulf Fritalry caterpillars on my Passion Flower vine.

    • Great Golden Digger Wasps do not trouble with caterpillars. They are very host specific, though the actual species of Katydid they prefer will vary over their range depending upon what is common locally. We suspect you have been watching an entirely different species of Wasp, like possibly a Paper Wasp in the genus Polistes, a group that frequently preys upon caterpillars to provide for their young.


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