Did you recently find a wasp with a long tail in your garden? It might be a thread-waisted wasp! Here’s how to get rid of common thread-waisted wasp without killing them.
The common thread-waisted wasp (Ammophila Procera) is easily found in most parts of south and central America, southern Canada, and Mexico. It is also quite common to the US.
Garden owners and farmers love these waps because they are beneficial insects that keep unwanted pests away from their gardens and yards.
Despite their significant pest controlling and pollinating nature, it can be a little overwhelming to deal with these wasps because they make nests all over the place and buzz around.
These wasps are agile, and they build their nest (either underground or in your window frames), which makes them harder to track and get rid of.
This article will mention ways through which you can naturally get rid of common thread-waisted wasps without taking the risk of killing them.
What Are They?
Ammophila procera is a kind of digger wasp from the species Sphecinae. It has a long and slender abdomen with a black body and an orangish band in the middle.
These bugs are mostly found in southern Canada, Mexico, parts of the United States, and central and south America.
These wasps can grow to be up to 1.4 inches in size and show sexual dimorphism in that females are larger than males.
Common thread-waisted wasps have long antennae and clear wings with visible veins, just like many others in their family.
Normally, these little fellows like to be in places without much vegetation, such as beaches or plains. They are diggers and love to be near places that have soft soil.
Ammophila Procera takes nectar as its primary source of food and remains near its burrows as much as possible.
Is the Common Thread Waisted Wasp Dangerous?
This species of wasps are not social; they are solitary nesters. Unlike most social wasps and insects, solitary wasps are generally docile and less aggressive towards humans and pets.
But, they have a venomous sting that can trigger pain and other problems in the human body.
Avoid recklessly handling them or accidentally touching them. They will attack and sting you as an act of defense.
You must also note that they are great pest controllers. They prey on soft-bodied insects and larvae of butterflies and moths, such as Symmerista moths, false unicorn caterpillars, and oakleaf caterpillars.
These caterpillars are meant for laying their eggs and as food for their larvae, just like many other species of parasitoid wasps.
Farmers prefer having them around their yards as they hunt down these leaf-eating caterpillars.
Are they aggressive?
These wasps are timid in nature and prefer to flee from danger if they feel threatened.
They only resort to attacking when the wasp is not able to escape. In most cases, adult females have limited venom, which they often save for hunting down their prey.
Do They Sting?
As mentioned above, they refrain from attacking humans and pets. They will sting if you directly touch them or try to manhandle them.
They do not use the sting as protection; they use it as a tool for stinging insects and making them paralyzed, which is later fed to the growing larvae in the nests.
Are they venomous?
The thread-waisted wasp’s sting contains venom that helps to stunt the insect prey. However, their venom is mild in humans.
If it stings you, the pain and swelling will be less compared to the bites of yellow jacket wasps or certain bees. Washing it with clean water and soap will fix the wound in some time.
Their Life Cycle
The life cycle of a common thread-waisted wasp is divided into four distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The female wasps lay eggs on the nest that they build with mud.
Once they lay the eggs, they fill the nest with paralyzed caterpillars. When the eggs hatch, the larvae can feed on them till reaching the next stage, where they turn into a pupa.
They stay in that stage throughout the winter, and in spring, they grow out to become full-grown adults.
How to Get Rid of Them
There are some natural ways through which you can get rid of these wasps:
Since these wasps also prefer to build underground nests, you should keep watering your lawn or garden regularly.
By doing so, you will drown out the wasp larvae. Moreover, the adults will no longer be able to build nests in muddy soil. They will eventually move to another location.
To prevent them from digging a nest, you can also add a thin layer of gravel to your lawn.
Planting more grass seeds will add thick grass cover to the ground, which prevents the wasps from digging; it also makes your lawn healthier.
Lastly, common thread-waisted wasps feast on garden pests such as butterfly and moth caterpillars.
Therefore try your best to keep these pests at bay. If there is a shortage of food for these wasps, they will move to another place.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get rid of wasp tunnels?
To naturally get rid of wasp tunnels, you can prevent them from digging nests underground. Here is how you can do it:
Keep watering your lawn to drown out the underground larvae and wasps.
Add a thin gravel layer to make the ground impenetrable.
Grow thick layers of grass on your lawn.
Pour boiling water into a wasp nest to kill and flush out the insects.
What happens if a thread-waisted wasp stings you?
Thread-waisted wasps have mild venom, which means they won’t do much harm to your body compared to other aggressive wasps.
The bite will cause slight swelling and minor irritation on the skin. However, the sting can also trigger an allergic reaction in your body; therefore, be careful while handling these wasps.
What scent will keep wasps away?
Wasps have a strong sense of smell and are strongly repelled bythe fragrances of cloves, basil, peppermint, citronella, spearmint, eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass, thyme, and bay leaves.
Keep any of these plants or fragrances near to prevent wasps from being around.
How does vinegar get rid of wasps?
Wasps are repelled by the strong smell of vinegar as well. Vinegar is excellent for getting rid of wasps without killing them.
Create a vinegar and water mixture. You can sprinkle this mixture around the outdoors and indoors of your house to keep the wasps at a distance.
It is always good to have an insect-free house and garden. Since thread-waisted wasps are common throughout America, you are likely to face the challenge of them making a home in your yard or garden.
Use the methods described in this article to naturally get rid of these wasps without killing them.
We hope this article helps you to deal with thread-waisted wasps in a better manner. Thank you for taking the time to read the article.
Thread waisted wasps can be scary, and many of our reader’s have emailed us pics of these bugs asking us how to get rid of them in the past. Here is a sample of such emails.
Letter 1 – Thread-Waisted Wasp
I saw this flying bug the other day. It was digging the hole in the ground in front of it. I’m pretty sure it was getting ready to lay an egg or eggs in it. When I came back later in the day the hole was filled in. I had seen one of these bugs a few days prior and it had a green catepiller that it had captured. (Unfortunately by the time I got the camera it was gone). I have an idea that it digs a hole, lays the egg or eggs and then puts prey in the hole for the larva to feed on but this is just a guess. I suspect it is some kind of hornet or wasp but can’t find it in my insect book. I live in south west MT
You are good. This is a Thread-Waisted Wasp, Ammophila species. It lives in open areas throughout the US and Southern Canada. Adults feed on nectar and larvae eat hairless caterpillars and sawfly larvae. Female digs short burrows in sand or light soil, enlarges a chamber to receive immobilized insect prey, and lays an egg. Larva feed initially on nonessential tissues, later eats indiscriminately, killing host. Thanks for the great image. Try to get it with a caterpillar as well since the female will seal the nest and return with more food.
Letter 2 – Thread Waist Wasp
Urgent Need of Identification for This Insect!
Hi there! I live in Georgia, and I captured this one on the sidewalk next to a sand-filled pool. I’ve looked everywhere for it and can’t find a definate match. I’m doing an insect collection, and I’m in need of this one’s name. Could you help? Thanks in advance,
We believe your Thread Waist Sphecid Wasp is probably Eremnophila aureonotata. We will check with Eric Eaton.
Letter 3 – Mating Thread-Waisted Wasps
Thread Waisted Wasps Mating
August 13, 2009
Hi, I just saw these two in the garden, and just found them on your site! Ironic that the description onsite said they could often be seen mating in the garden because that’s exactly what they were doing when I saw them! Hope you can use the pictures and thanks again for a great site!
Newport News, VA (southeastern VA)
Thanks for sending us your excellent images of Thread Waisted Wasps, Eremnophila aureonotata, mating in your garden. Indeed, Bugguide does state: “Female digs burrow and provisions with a single large lepidopteran larvae. These are reported to include various moths from the families Noctuidae, Notodontidae (especially), and Sphingidae, and also skippers (Hesperidae). The wasp is commonly found on wildflowers with large clusters of blossoms, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, from summer into fall. One frequently observes mating pairs on the flowers.“
Letter 4 – Mating Thread Waisted Wasps
Location: Northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati, OH
August 5, 2010 7:30 pm
I caught this pair of, what I believe to be, thread-waisted wasps mating in my garden today. I chased the pair around as they flew from flower to flower, snapping images of the dynamic duo.
They were seemingly oblivious to the fact that I was recording their ’George
Costanza-esque’ love-making session. 😉
Finally, the pair went their separate ways, but not before the male gave his girl one last ’love bite’.
I am assuming that the male’s protruding ’stinger’ is his sex organ? I have searched, but seem to be unable to come up with an actual term for this, other than ’genital capsule’.
I saw that you have a couple of pics of these guys already, but thought you might like these.
We love your detailed images of Mating Thread-Waisted Wasps, Eremnophila aureonotata. According to BugGuide, the species can be identified because of “The blue-black body and silve/gold patches are distinctive. The patches may wear off in older individuals (Troy Bartlett).” BugGuide also indicates: “Female digs burrow and provisions with a single large lepidopteran larvae. These are reported to include various moths from the families Noctuidae, Notodontidae (especially), and Sphingidae, and also skippers (Hesperidae). The wasp is commonly found on wildflowers with large clusters of blossoms, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, from summer into fall. One frequently observes mating pairs on the flowers.“
Thanks for the info, as always. Sorry if my email was a little ‘whimsical’. In case anyone was confused, the ‘George Costanza’ reference was a nod to ‘Seinfeld’ and George’s fantasy of ‘eating while having sex” The pair seemed to go about the business of of food while mating.
I have read that the life cycle of this wasp is very short and that the queen will often mate with many drones before depositing her eggs and dying. I also read that she will seldom mate with drones of her own hive. Poor guys! All that work and no reward.
I was amazed at how well these photos came out and am proud that you have posted them on your site. 🙂
Letter 5 – Thread Waisted Wasp
Very large wasp with orange band
Location: Fairfield, Maine USA
August 27, 2010 11:02 pm
I was in the Goldenrod today and was passed by an enormous wasp. It looked a lot like the Blue Mud Wasp but it had a bright orange band around it near it’s end. It was probably over 3 inches long, but I could not get very close to it before it flew away. What is this thing? Can they sting?
Hi again James,
You really are amassing up quite a collection of images of your local insects on our site. This Thread Waisted Wasp, Ammophila nigrans, is feeding on goldenrod, as are several of the insects you submitted last week. We really are interested in certain habitats, like the Milkweed Meadow tag we just created, and the Goldenrod Field is another excellent place to observe a variety of invertebrates that are either attracted to the nectar or the creatures feeding on the nectar. According to a comment Eric Eaton posted to BugGuide on Ammophila nigrans: “As adults, they feed on nectar. The larva feeds on caterpillars, paralyzed and stocked in the cell by its mother. These are solitary wasps, so each female excavates her own burrow.” The genus information page on BugGuide has more comprehensive information.
Hopefully you don’t mind the numerous submissions, but I work where I can go out to the goldenrod field
every hour or so, so I always bring camera(s) with me. My next home has large milkweed fields, so maybe
next year I’ll have some different varieties. Thanks for the identification; I never had seen one before.
It’s neat that the name roughly translates as a sand-loving wasp… (from B.G. info)
One thing I noticed is that B.G. lists them from 11-25mm (0.4”-0.98”) but I am certain this one was closer to 2.75”-3” long.
Update: August 27, 2016
While going through our archives today to tag postings with Goldenrod Meadow, we discovered that we never identified this Thread Waisted Wasp, which we now believe to be in the genus Ammophila based on this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide, they are “Medium-sized black wasps with a relatively long petiole (“thread-waisted”), and usually with orange on the abdomen. ”
Letter 6 – Thread Waisted Wasp
mystery to fellow bug lover
Location: barnwell, sc, usa
October 2, 2011 6:09 pm
I found the bug in my attached photos this afternoon during my dog walk in an overgrown field located in Barnwell, SC (October 3, 2011). The size was approximately 3 to 4 inches total, and it had its relatively large mandibles attached to the stem it was perched. Any information is appreciated.
Because of the silvery white slash markings on the thorax and the large size, we have identified your Thread Waisted Wasp as Ammophila procera based on photos posted to BugGuide and this description: “a widespread and common species in eastern North America. It has fairly distinctive, bold silver dashes (front-most interrupted) on the thorax, and is one of the largest members of the genus. However, certain identification as to species is probably not plausible based on photographs.”
Letter 7 – Mating Thread-Waisted Wasps
Subject: Thread waisted wasps?
Location: Statesboro GA
September 21, 2015 4:28 pm
I took this photo today at Garden of the Coastal Plain at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro GA. I believe it’s two thread waisted wasps mating, but would like confirmation from an expert. Thanks for a great website and resource.
Signature: eddie l
Your image of mating Thread-Waisted Wasps is quite beautiful. We quickly identified them as Eremnophila aureonotata thanks to this image on BugGuide. According to BugGuide, they are found in: “Old fields near deciduous or other(?) woodlands. The wasp is commonly found on wildflowers with large clusters of blossoms, such as Queen Anne’s Lace. Mating pairs on flowers are common.” The female provisions an underground nest with caterpillars.
Letter 8 – Mating Thread-Waisted Wasps
Subject: Unique wasp like flying insect
Geographic location of the bug: Southwest Missouri (Stone Co)
Time: 12:39 PM EDT
I saw this unique wasp in our front yard today, one I’d never seen before. I’ve traveled all over the world had have seen some very unique insects and animals but this one is new and I can’t find any pictures of another. It is all black, is multi segmented but the rear segment tuts up like a scorpion rather than the more traditional wasp in this area. It has a very identifiable looking stinger somewhat like a dragonfly and the wings move as a bees with the familiar buzzing sound. Any assistance in identifying it would be great as I’ve never seen one around here. I’ve attached three pictures to help. It was hard to get the pics as it didn’t much care for me getting to close. Thanks.
How you want your letter signed: JLQD
This is not a single Sphecid Wasp represented in your images. It is a mating pair of Thread-Waisted Wasps in the family Sphecidae, and if you look closely, you can see that he has her by the scruff of her neck and that their abdomens, each individually connected to the body by a thin pedicel that gives this family the collective common name of Thread-Waisted Wasps, are conjoined for the transference of spermatozoa. They look similar to the Blue Mud Wasp that is depicted on BugGuide.
Letter 9 – Thread-Waisted Wasp, but what species???
Subject: Regular visitor to mountain mint
Geographic location of the bug: SW Indiana
Time: 10:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Would appreciate an ID on this large insect visiting our mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) plants
How you want your letter signed: Paul
This is a Thread-Waisted Wasp in the family Sphecidae, but we are having trouble identifying its species. It looks similar to individuals in the genus Sphex pictured on BugGuide, including the Great Golden Digger Wasp, but its abdominal color and white facial and thoracic markings are quite different. Perhaps one of our readers will provide assistance.
Thanks! I found a Sphex habenus that was close but am not 100% on that ID.
That is the same species that Cesar Crash commented regarding.