How To Get Rid Of Spider Wasps? Simple Strategies for Elimination

If you see a large wasp in your garden, it is natural to be afraid. In this article, we explore how to get rid of spider wasps.

If you are scared of giant flying insects, then you should take cover before a spider wasp starts chasing you around!

One of the more common nectar-feeding insects in your garden, spider wasps, are black and golden in appearance.

These insects are one of the approximately 5,000 species of wasps. If you are scared of giant insects, you should take cover before a spider wasp starts chasing you around.

In this article, let us learn more about these wasps and how you can get rid of them.

Spider Wasp

What are Spider Wasps?

Spider wasps belong to the family Pompilidae, similar to yellow jacket hornets.

They are black wasps, sometimes with orange stripes on their abdomen. You can easily identify these spider-hunting wasps by their wings which are dark orange in color.

The wasps have large hind legs, and they use their short front legs to dig holes in the soil.

One of the most famous species of spider wasp is the “tarantula hawk,” which preys on tarantulas almost twice their own size.

Most spider wasps live in the United States and some in South America. The largest species has the name Matacaballos or “horse-killer.”

Are Spider Wasps Harmful?

Spider wasps are both harmful and beneficial in some ways. The sting of spider wasps is one of the most painful stings in the world. It can cause severe swelling and pain, which might last for a few hours.

On the other hand, they control the spider population in your garden and protect your plants from them. They are also pollinators who help spread pollen far and wide.

Mating Wasps may be Spider Wasps

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Spider Wasp Stings

If they feel threatened in their natural environment, spider wasps will sting! However, usually, they are nonaggressive insects.

These wasps are solitary in nature, so they don’t have any colonies to protect, which is why they aren’t as aggressive as yellow jackets or other wasps.

Their sting can be very painful, but it is not too much to worry about. They are not poisonous to humans, so the swelling or redness is likely to recover by itself in a few days.

However, in case of an allergic reaction, you should seek immediate medical attention.

While we are on the subject of wasp stings, the best thing idea is to keep away from these winged threats, especially if you encounter a tarantula hawk.

Tarantula hawk wasps cause the world’s second deadliest sting. It is blindingly and excruciatingly painful, leaving the human nothing writhing and screaming in pain.

Don’t believe us? Watch for yourself.

Damage To The Yard

Female wasps make their nests in the soil. They create tiny holes in the ground where they lay their eggs.

While these may cause some damage to the soil, it is not something to be worried about much.

Spider wasps are mostly beneficial insects because they control spiders in the garden.

They are not social wasps, so they do not colonize areas of the garden; hence there is no risk of an infestation.

It is probably not necessary to control their population if you only have one or two of them in your garden because this solitary insect is probably doing more good than harm.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Wasps

Are They Aggressive?

Spider wasps are solitary wasps who are not aggressive by nature. But like any other creature, they will sting if you threaten them.

As long as you maintain your distance, these wasps are not aggressive.

How To Control Spider Wasps

If you are trying to control spider wasps in your garden, here are some things you can do:

First of all, try to spray water throughout the garden with a hose. The water turns the soil muddy, and these wasps don’t like to make nests in muddy soil.

Do not use pesticides on spider wasps because the deposits can harm other beneficial insects like honeybees, who may carry them back to their hives.

If a spider wasp makes its way into your house, there is nothing much to do except let it find its way out.

You could try swatting them with a shoe or fly-swatter, but make sure to run away at the first sign of trouble.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Wasps

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do spider wasps nest?

Spider wasps nest in the ground. The female spider wasp digs a small hole, lays eggs, and then seals the nest with a pebble or sand.
Spider wasps are solitary and do not live in colonies like other wasps.
They usually make their nests in soil, rotten wood, tree trunks, or crevices in rocks.

Are spider wasps beneficial?

Spider wasps are beneficial insects since they hunt spiders and keep them away from plants.
Normally, these wasps live a quiet, solitary life in the garden and do not require any kind of pest control.
These wasps aren’t garden pests since they feed on the nectar from flowers and are excellent pollinators as well.

How painful is a spider wasp sting?

Even though scientists around the world have studied
the pain from wasps stings, it is still a matter of perception.
The most common pain reaction of a spider wasp sting has been described as excruciating, causing instant pain to the victim.
However, once it is taken care of with ice or an ointment, the swelling will go down in a few hours.

Where do wasp spiders live?

Common spider wasp species are native creatures of North America and are one of the most common garden insects.
These wasps live among flowers and plants, hovering around them and hunting for prey. They nest in the soil, on rotten trees and cracks that they find.

Final Words

Spider wasps might not be your favorite thing to encounter in the garden, but they can be your friends.

These wasps help in pollination and keep your plants safe by killing off unwanted spiders.

Control of the wasps may be important for your safety, but if it’s only one or two wasps, you might not have to do anything about it since they are not aggressive.

Thank you for reading!

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

55 thoughts on “How To Get Rid Of Spider Wasps? Simple Strategies for Elimination”

  1. Thanks! I live in California and I like to visit my friends in South Africa as often as I can. I told them this looks similar to our tarantula hawk.

    Reply
    • And the Tarantula Hawk is a Spider Wasp, so we are in agreement. There are many similar looking Spider Wasps in Australia which shares closely related species with South Africa. The large Spider Wasps in Australia prey on Huntsman Spiders and there are large Huntsman Spiders in South Africa. This is all circumstantial, but it supports the Spider Wasp identification.

      Reply
  2. Although I am not an expert, I am certain that you have got your identification of this insect correct. In the last half hour we have just seen this insect hauling a paralysed rain spider that was at least the same size as itself at incredible speed across the ground outside our house. Although it is beautiful, it also appears that the insect has one of the most painful stings of any insect on the planet.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your verification of our identification. We will remove the uncertainty from the title of the posting. We wish you had taken a photo. This truly is a gorgeous Spider Wasp and we would love to know the species.

      Reply
  3. Hello, I was looking online to find this type of wasp and this was the only page I found with the species that looks like this. I also saw this exact wasp several months ago near Wilderness South Africa, also eating some kind of spider. I was with a few locals and they said that the wasp is apparently highly venomous/poisonous, and from what I read about spider wasps it sounds like it fits the bill.

    Thanks for all the information.
    -Nicolas

    Reply
    • As a point of clarification, the adult Spider Wasp does not prey upon spiders to eat, but rather the female provisions a nest for her young with Spiders. Adult Spider Wasps, both males and females, feed upon nectar and they can often be seen at flowers that produce quantities of nectar, including milkweed. We still have not identified the species name for this beautiful Spider Wasp. We wish you were able to provide additional images.

      Reply
  4. I found this website in my quest to identify a similar bug I saw today. Unlike Jeff’s, mine was longer–about an inch–and narrower. Its body was completely black–no brown tips on the wings, which were also narrower. It had bright yellow antennae which were arched but not curled. This insect was rummaging around garden foliage, flying from one plant to another in similar quick, jerky movements. This one was not aggressive as I could view it closely. Sadly, no camera handy.

    Reply
  5. I Know these two species very well. The first one, Pepsis marginata(Tarantula Hawk) and the second ,Stictia signata, a Sand Wasp from the same family of the Bembix americana.

    Reply
  6. I found today the same black and blue body with black tip orange wings wasp dying by my laundry. Normally I see different types of spiders crawling around back there, even tarantulas so now it makes sense to me. But I was stunned & curious about it since I had never seen one before, so I took a few pictures with my cell. Hoped I could upload it for ya….

    Reply
  7. I had the scary experience of seeing everyday how it was looking for food or a nest area. Yesterday it dragged a rain spider into the area infront of my office window. My boss made the mistake of accudentally walking past it. It literally went for him. Luckily he had jeans on. In the process of stomping his feet to get it off him, he stepped on it. It was dark brown in colour, orange wings, quite a fattish segmented body of aproximately 5cm in length. This was in Ferndale, Ranburg on 17/02/2016, temperature about 33 degree celcius

    Reply
  8. One stung me on the ear today and it hurt. Never took that long to get over a sting after taking a benadryl. Made my lower jaw and part of my head hurt.

    Reply
  9. I have one like Jeff’s with yellow antennae and yellow brown wing tips. I’ve only seen one but it on my hummingbird feeders. The birds seem to ignore it but give it some distance. I don’t care to find out aggressive it is. I live in Augusta, Georgia.IMG_0048.JPG

    Reply
  10. On 28 Nov ’16, we saw a huge blue wasp at the Baboon Spiders’ burrows. It was late afternoon past 17;30 and hot… We immediately went and chased it off. It came back a few times and we had difficulty in chasing it off completely. In the meantime we found a Baboon spider laying on her back, and a few babies around her. We rescued them and took the mommy spider with. I posted this on FB at The Spider Club of Southern Africa. We were told it was a spider hunting wasp that paralyzed the mommy. It took a lot of research before I could identify the wasp as a Hemipepsis Tarantula Hawk (sub specie unknown). Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of it that day, but I remember what it looked like as it was huge and blue and the very first time I saw one of these over here..and well never again I may add. For interest sake, I took the mommy spider and started rehabilitation on her. The babies are back at the burrow. She was completely paralyzed, but has since recovered to a stage where she walks again and eats. If interested, she has her own FB page : https://www.facebook.com/spiderangel/?ref=page_internal

    Reply
  11. This beast was on my roof here in Dawsonville, Ga. Growing up in Atlanta, I never saw so many strange creatures until I moved to the country. It is almost two inches long, black wasp body (as we have lots of those around), rust colored antenna (about an inch long) and rust tips on the wings. It totally creeped me out. This is a first sighting for me. Side note: I stopped taking the top off of my Jeep when we moved here because of so many strange, large insects that like to ride along with me in my Jeep. Eww. Thank you for this valuable website!

    Reply
  12. I saw a metallic blue wasp just now, about 5-6 cm long, dragging a paralyzed/dead baboon spider with it. Location: Komatipoort, Mpumalanga, approximately 10 km from Mozambiquean border, right next to Kruger Park. It was kind of clumsy, and made a lot of noise. It also kept on flying a few feet, then returned and dragged the baboon spider there. Could be because it was dragging the baboon spider backwards. It was very aggressive and kept buzzing and arching it’s sting at me. I followed it to a hollow under a tree stump, wich it entered and didn’t come out. I assume it will lay eggs in the spider or eat it, so it is most likely a female. I have seen quite a few of them, but never this big or aggressive.

    Reply
  13. Saw one today in Greenville SC dragging a large recluse-like spider, I got close and it quickly jumped all over my legs before taking an aggressive stance between me and it’s quarry. I didn’t hang around long to further provoke it.

    Reply
    • We wish you had gotten an image since we have none on our site of this spider and its prey. It is our understanding that they prey on Wolf Spiders as in this BugGuide image.

      Reply
  14. Bugman,
    Any chance of seeing the photos of Entypus unifasciatus dragging large spider noted by Chris (August 7, 2017) and Jesus (August 8, 2018). We are doing a host selection paper on this species of wasp, which captures both wolf and fishing spiders in the eastern US and would like to identify the spiders. Thank you.

    Reply
  15. In reference to the August 22, 2018 photo of Entypus unifasciatus from Oklahoma City, OK by “Stephanie,” the host spider is Syspira sp. (Prowling spider)(Miturgidae). Of 414 host records for this species of wasp, this is the first host record (1/414, 0.02%) for this family of spider. We do, however, have the same genus and family host record for the congener Entypus aratus from Mexico. We should like to acknowledge “What’s That Bug” and Stephanie for this extremely rare and highly unusual host record. Does Stephanie have a last name to accompany this record in our forthcoming publication on spider wasps? Thank you. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Thanks for this information Fran, and also for the compliment. Is it possible for you to post this comment to the actual posting to which you refer?

      Reply
  16. I have photos and a video of a spider wasp dragging a wolf spider. Where can I send the photos and video to? I’m watching it as I type now.

    Reply
  17. Maggie, Send images of spider wasp and wolf spider to me and I may be able to name it for you. Geographic location and size are very important in my identification. Thank you. Frank [kurczewskifrank@gmail.com]

    Reply
    • Frank, I encountered this spider wasp yesterday in my yard in Western Maryland. I managed to get pics and video of it wrestling and dragging off a spider of matching size. Comment here if you’re interested in seeing the footage and I will email it to you.

      Reply
  18. Bugman, Do you have an email address for Jose R. Medina? I want to ask him a question about a spider wasp species from Puerto Rico. Thank you. Frank E. Kurczewski.

    Reply
  19. Hello, I think Jon is correct. I’ve had a few of these about this Autumn probing around the lawn attempting to lay eggs in lawn grubs. Probably Lissopimpla excelsa

    Reply
  20. I have photos and video of a spider wasp that I ventured across today. It was dragging a spider across my yard that we had recently dug up a bit. I live in Western Maryland and have come across some strange bugs in my day but this was definitely the creepiest wasp I’ve ever encountered. Email me if you’d like me to share the footage. And thanks for the id on this beautiful beast.

    Reply
  21. I caught a winged ant of some kind. It has curled up antenna. How do I send you a picture for identification?

    Reply
  22. I can offer more photos of this wasp. I live in the BVI and seam to see them around May annually.
    The sting is really painful.

    Reply
  23. On my bucket list is to visit the Namib Desert. I live in the Sonoran Desert region in Phoenix, AZ, USA. As a boy I would go into the desert to find the desert iguana and would come across the succulent looking desert milkweed; which also is a virtual airport of flying insects coming and going. I would typically come across on a milkweed our Pepsis Wasp, which is a dead ringer for its Namib cousin – big, black beauty. Common name is tarantula hawk wasp. Its does the same thing to our big spider. Wings that make a loud beating sound that cause you stop and look, some might be in fear. The only difference in appearance is our wasp has bright metallic orange wings and the Namib species are bright metallic blue. I planted a desert milkweeds in my front yard and when it flowered recently I was favored by a tarantula hawk in the neighborhood. Amazing animal!

    Reply
  24. I took pictures of several of these here in NC. I had never seen one before and had no clue what it was until finding this page. Thank you for the info. The ones I saw in my yard were huge. I got up close and personal trying to get pictures and now I wish I hadn’t because I’m highly allergic to anything that stings. I had no clue it was a type of wasp. The orange antenna is what got to me because they were so unusual.

    Reply
  25. In one of my close up pictures, the under side of the wings, on the tail of the body, it’s a really pretty blue. Is that normal?

    Reply

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