Do Potter Wasps Sting?

Potter wasps can be quite intimidating and might scare you at first glance. But do potter wasps sting, and should you be afraid of them? Let’s find out.

When you encounter wasps in your garden, whether they might sting you is the first question that might come to your mind.

After all, wasp stings can be quite nasty and painful, and some species of wasps tend to be particularly aggressive.

While potter wasps aren’t the aggressive type, their females are still capable of delivering painful stings.

If you recently started finding potter wasps in your garden and are wondering if they would sting you, this article will answer all your queries.

Orange Potter Wasp

What are Potter Wasps?

Before we get to the wasp’s tendency to sting, let’s first get a proper understanding of what exactly a potter wasp is.

Closely related to paper wasps, the potter wasps are widespread across both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres.

They earn their name from the fact that they build pot-shaped mud nests on the ground to lay their eggs, unlike the paper wasps.

The body of a potter wasp grows up to around 3/8th to 3/4th of an inch. Their wings remain folded lengthwise in half while resting.

Potter wasps usually have black bodies with yellow stripes, but the appearance may vary slightly depending on the subspecies.

Are Mason Wasps the Same As Potter Wasps?

Mason and potter wasps are often confused as the same species, which isn’t very unusual considering they’re similar in many ways.

For instance, both mason and potter wasps are insect predators, can sting, and build small solitary nests.

However, the two species of wasps build their nests using different methods and materials.

A potter wasp nest mostly comprises mud, along with some dried leaves and twigs. Mason wasps, on the other hand, mostly use plant resin instead of mud.

Do Potter Wasps Sting or Bite?

Like most wasp species, female potter wasps are capable of stinging. Their stings can be quite painful and lead to swelling and redness.

However, potter wasps don’t pose much of a threat as they rarely sting humans. They prefer to use their stingers on their prey, such as caterpillars and beetles.

Are They Aggressive?

Firstly, you need to understand that social wasps are aggressive only because they’re protective of their colonies and are only trying to protect their family from threats.

Potter wasps are a solitary wasp species, which means they don’t have a colony to defend. Hence, they aren’t aggressive at all and would attack you unless provoked.

Are They Poisonous or Venomous?

Potter wasps do carry a paralytic venom that they use against their prey. The females paralyze live insects like caterpillars and drag them into their nests.

These insects serve as food for the wasp larvae once the eggs hatch. However, venom doesn’t have much effect on humans except for the occasional allergic reaction.

Are They Harmful to Humans?

Although they are stinging wasps, potter wasps aren’t harmful to humans. As mentioned earlier, they’d usually not attack you as long as you don’t bother them.

The presence of potter wasps in your garden shouldn’t be a cause of concern. Moreover, they eat many pests like beetles and caterpillars, which makes them beneficial to us.

What To Do if A Potter Wasp Stings You?

While it is unlikely, there is no harm in being prepared for a wasp sting.

Thankfully, as potter wasp stings aren’t venomous enough to impact humans, there isn’t much reason to worry.

The affected area will swell up and redden, but that’s quite normal for wasp stings. Follow the steps below for an effective potter wasp sting treatment:

  • First, wash the affected area with soap and warm water to remove any bacteria that the sting may have delivered.
  • Now, take a cold pack or wrap a piece of cloth around some ice and apply it to the affected site. Applying the cold pack for 30 to 60 minutes with intervals in between should reduce the swelling.
  • If the pain or swelling is too intense, you may take Ibuprofen or a similar over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine.
  • In case you’re allergic to insect stings or the affected area keeps itching for hours after the sting, take an antihistamine. Applying a calamine or corticosteroid cream over the area can help too.

If the wasp sting triggers a powerful allergic reaction or the pain doesn’t subside even after a couple of days, you should seek medical attention.

Can Potter Wasps Be Beneficial Also?

Finding potter wasps in your garden is a good sign. Being insect predators, they are beneficial wasps that can help control pests in the garden.

As mentioned earlier, the female wasps of this species hunt caterpillars, beetle larvae, and other insects to store food for the larvae.

Adult potter wasps mostly feed on nectar from flowers, which also makes them excellent pollinators for plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

How painful is a potter wasp sting?

Getting stung by a potter wasp can cause a great deal of pain, together with swelling and redness of the skin.
However, you don’t need to worry since the venom they carry isn’t quite effective against humans and won’t cause any major infection.

How do I get rid of potter wasps?

As potter wasps are solitary and don’t live in colonies, it’s easy to get rid of them.
If you come across a potter wasp nest and don’t want it around, just pull it off the surface on which it is built. It’s usually safe to do this at night since potter wasps are inactive at that time.

Where do the potter wasps live?

Potter wasps are found everywhere – you can see them in woodlands, heaths, and urban areas alike.
They build nests on a variety of surfaces, including shrubbery, irrigation pipes, and window panes.
It’s common to find these wasps in gardens as they feed on nectar and need small insects to feed their larvae.

Will a wasp sting you if it lands on you?

Unless a wasp landing on you is specifically doing so to attack, it won’t sting you unless you provoke it.
This is especially the case with potter wasps, as they rarely sting. Just make sure not to flap or brush off the wasp in panic – that might make them feel threatened and cause them to sting.

Wrap Up

Now that you know that potter wasps don’t pose a threat, there’s no need to fear them anymore.

If there are too many potter wasp nests in your garden and their presence bothers you, you may implement natural control methods.

However, it’s best to leave them be as they help pollinate your garden and protect it from pests.


  • 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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