What Do Red Wasps Eat? Explained

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Did you see some red wasps in your garden and are wondering if they are helpful or harmful? In this article, we help you understand what they eat and a little bit about their lifecycle.

When you are out in the garden, there is always a chance of big, colorful insects chasing you around. Red wasps might be one of the scariest sights among them.

These small yet vicious wasps are a real threat when they are protecting their newly built nests around your home.

So let us tell you something about red wasps, their diet, and where they live.

What Do Red Wasps Eat? Explained

What Are Red Wasps?

Belonging to the family Vespidae (paper wasps), they are a species of wasp native to the United States. They are spread out over New York, Florida West to Kansas and Texas.

They are scientifically called Polistes carolina or Polistes rubiginosa.

Red wasps grow up to an inch long with six legs and a pair of frail wings that are black or purple in color. The wasps are between bright red and orange in color, often identified by the large nests they build.

These are social wasps that build their large, umbrella-shaped nests in hidden areas.

These species build nests that can house up to 5,000 wasps in brood cells. These wasps are abundant in the garden in summer when they are building nests for the breeding season.

Red Wasp Lifecycle

In a red wasp colony, life cycles occur in four phases:

The Beginning

This takes place in the spring season when young females start building new nests.

There is a queen wasp, larger in size than others, who is known as the foundress. She is the one who starts building the wasp nest.

The nests are built individually or with several foundresses working together.

What Do Red Wasps Eat? Explained


At this phase, the foundress lays only female wasps, who become her workers. This time is taken up for maintaining the nest, foraging, and taking care of the new wasp larvae by adult wasps.


The reproductive phase lasts from the first hatching of the new larva to the colony declining. Adults mate to lay eggs, and the larvae start to grow.

As they become bigger and stronger, they spread out of the nest and start to create their own.

Decline and Rebirth

This is the final stage of a read wasp’s life cycle consisting of colony decline. The new wasps have all flown out to make their own nests, and the old colony declines and finally perishes.

What Do They Eat?

Red wasps are omnivores that feed on a lot of organic materials. Their diet includes nectar, fruits, honey, and small insects. These wasps are also attracted to leftover food, meat in particular.

The wasp larva feeds on caterpillars and other insects that are chopped up by the adults.

Nectar is also an important part of the wasps’ diet. They are often attracted to bright flowers, goldenrod being a favorite.

What Do Red Wasps Eat? Explained

What Eats Red Wasps?

In their natural habitat, there are a lot of creatures that feed on them. The bright colors of these wasps make them an easy target for a lot of creatures.


Birds are the most common predators of solitary wasps.

When wasps are flying alone, the birds can easily swoop in to hunt them, which is difficult for social wasps in groups.

In the case of red wasps, a bird will try to hunt them when they are away from the nests.

The common birds to hunt wasps are sparrows, starlings, and mockingbirds, among others.

Invertebrates and Other Insects

Large insects like dragonflies, centipedes, spiders, and praying mantes are common wasp predators.

They can attack the wasp mid-air and also hunt them among tree branches and flowers.

Amphibians and Reptiles

One of the common reptiles that feed on wasps are geckos and small lizards. Insects like toads, frogs, and salamanders also make their way to the wasps’ nests to feed on the larvae.


Large mammals can sometimes feed on red wasps if they are hungry or stumble on their nests.

Black bears are the most common predators of these wasps, usually going after the nests in search of honey. Small mammals like badgers, weasels, and mice also feed on wasps.

What Do Red Wasps Eat? Explained

Frequently Asked Questions

Do red wasps serve a purpose?

Red wasps, like other common wasp species, are regarded as beneficial insects for a garden. These insects feed on garden pests like caterpillars and small bugs.
They also help in the pollination of flowers. If there is a controlled population of wasps around your house, they can prove useful for a healthy garden.

What are red wasps attracted to?

Red wasps are often attracted to bright colors and food left out in the open.
The waps can be seen flocking around fresh or rotting food, open garbage bins, and outdoor picnics. In a garden, the wasps can be seen flocking to bright flowers, looking for nectar.

How long can a wasp live without food?

Different wasps can survive without food for different periods of time. It varies according to species, age, and weather.
In most cases, it is a few days to weeks. Species that feed on high-sugar substances need to feed more often but survive longer as they save the sugar content.

What kills red wasps instantly?

There are a few different ways you can get rid of wasps instantly. The best way is to attack their nests – pouring boiling water can kill a lot of wasps almost instantly.
You can try to spray a large quantity of insecticide, but this can be dangerous as the wasps will become aggressive and attack anyone who is around.

Wrap Up

Red wasps are known for their painful stings, which can be common if you stumble upon their nests. However, they are also beneficial and help your garden by feeding on small pests.

So the best idea is to stay out of their way and be safe by removing their nests if you notice one.

They eat a lot of things, mostly sugary, but they also eat small insects and leftover food from humans. Thank you for reading!


  • 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.

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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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