What Do Wasps Eat? 6 Types of Wasp Diets

Wasps hover around human food in picnics and gardens, in most cases scaring them to no end! But what do wasps eat? Do they really like all those syrups and sodas?

Known for their interesting physical features, nest-building techniques, and ability to live as colonies, wasps are indeed one of god’s most unique creations. 

If you have a knack for learning about the insect world, you might be wondering what wasps eat. 

Well, there are around 18,000 wasp species of wasp in North America, and their dietary habits vary. You’ll get to know more about it from this article.

What Do Wasps Eat? Truth Revealed

Types of Wasps?

Before we get to what wasps eat, let’s get a quick overview of the three main types of wasps out there:

  • Social wasps: These are the wasps that live in colonies. Social wasps work together to build a large nest, defend it, find food, etc. A dominant queen wasp leads each colony.
  • Solitary wasps: As you might guess from the name, solitary wasps live alone. Rather than building colonies, they make individual wasp nests to lay eggs.
  • Parasitic wasps: These wasps have an interesting way of laying eggs. A female wasp of this type chooses a host insect and lays eggs in its body. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae start consuming the host from the inside out.

What Do They Eat?

While the feeding habits vary from one species to another, most adult wasps feed primarily on sugary substances like nectar. 

Many wasps also eat insects, especially in their larval stages. To make it easier for you, we have compiled this information in the form of questions you might have about what wasps eat.

What Do Wasps Eat? Truth Revealed

Do Wasps Eat Insects?

Most wasp species do not eat insects once they mature into adults.

However, it’s common for wasps to catch or kill insects such as cicadas, cockroaches, beetles, flies, and other bugs to keep their larvae fed. 

Many wasps are also capable of injecting paralytic venom with their stingers. They paralyze their prey and leave it with the eggs for the larvae to feed after hatching.

Do Wasps Eat Fruit?

Adult wasps are drawn to foods with high sugar content, which include a wide variety of foods. 

This is why leaving fruits in the open for too long often attracts wasps. Oranges, bananas, blackberries, and sliced apples are among some of their favorite fruits.

Do Wasps Eat Nectar?

Yes, nectar is what most adult wasps primarily feed on, which is why you’ll often find them in your garden. This also makes wasps great pollinators, alongside bees. 

Having non-aggressive wasps in your garden is a good thing since they can help your garden thrive better. Male wasps forage for nectar much more frequently than female wasps.

What Do Wasps Eat? Truth Revealed

Do Wasps Eat Sugar?

Sugar is a crucial part of a wasp’s diet, which is why nectar and fruits are among their favorite foods. 

In the wild, wasps also feed on honeydew secreted by aphids and other similar insects for the same reason – high sugar content.

Do Wasps Eat Spiders?

Some predatory wasp species prey on spiders. Some of them, such as the mud dauber wasps are particularly good at this and can even capture spiders from their webs. 

Tarantula hawks are a particularly famous example of this type – these wasps can take down about 12 tarantulas many times their size in their lifetime!

However, they do this to feed their young – adult wasps do not eat spiders. 

Do Wasps Eat Mosquitoes?

In case you were hoping that wasps living in your home could help get rid of mosquitoes, I have bad news for you. 

Generally speaking, mosquitoes aren’t a part of a wasp’s diet. Although many wasps hunt insects for their young, they rarely target mosquitoes.

What Do Wasps Eat? Truth Revealed

Do Wasps Eat Wood?

You may have noticed wasps digging into wood surfaces or chewing wood and found it strange that they eat wood. 

This is common among certain species, like bald-faced hornets, yellow jackets, and paper wasps. 

Well, they don’t actually “eat” the wood – they use it to extract cellulose and make paper pulp for their nests.

Do Wasps Eat Meat?

While most wasp larvae are insectivores and eat meat, most adult wasps cannot digest animal protein. 

However, there are a few exceptions, such as yellow jackets. Not only do they eat meat, but they’re highly attracted to it.

Are Wasps Attracted to Human Food?

If you have ever had a picnic ruined due to a swarm of wasps buzzing around, it’s because they’re highly attracted to various human foods. 

Sugary foods and drinks are particularly attractive to them, while meat can attract certain wasp species too.

What Do Wasps Eat? Truth Revealed

What Do Wasps Drink?

Apart from water, wasps also drink various types of sugary liquid. 

Much of a wasp’s diet comprises liquid substances that they can suck using specialized tubes. These include nectar, fruit juices, soft drinks, alcohol, etc.

What Do Wasps Eat in Summer?

Wasps primarily feed on nectar and pollen in summer, besides various fruits. This is why wasp activity in your garden seems particularly high during the summer months. 

The abundance of fruits and flowers during these months is a great advantage for the wasps too.

What Do Wasps Eat in Winter?

In winter, most wasps die. Their larvae turn to pupae and overwinter. Most of their preferred types of food sources are no longer available during this time of the year.

This is why you will probably not find too many wasps in the wintertime.

How Long Can Wasps Live Without Food?

There’s no clear answer to this, as the duration that wasps can survive without food depends on factors like the weather, their life stage, colony ranking, and species. 

While they sometimes last only a couple of days without food, they may also survive in several ways.

What Do Wasps Eat? Truth Revealed

Can Wasps Get Drunk?

Just like humans, wasps can get drunk from consuming alcohol. Furthermore, it’s much easier for them to get drunk – even a small drop of alcohol is enough. 

Drunk wasps are much more aggressive and irritable than usual, which also means they’re more likely to sting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is wasp’s favorite food?

Wasps prefer sugary foods – the higher the sugar content, the better. A variety of sweet foods and liquids attract wasps. 
Some of their favorite foods include oranges, bananas, cider, soft drinks with high sugar content, etc.
However, most of them are carnivorous in the larval stage, when they eat a variety of insects such as cicadas, cockroaches, katydids, spiders, and so on.

Do wasps actually serve a purpose?

Every organism has a purpose in nature. Wasps serve two vital roles – they are excellent pollinators and active predators that keep pest populations under control. 
This is why it’s good to have non-aggressive wasps in gardens or agricultural fields. In fact some species are actually bred and sold for pest control.

What do wasps want from humans?

Wasps don’t want anything specific from humans. However, human food with high sugar content can attract wasps. 
If you have such foods lying around you in the open, they might attract wasps. This is the reason why you may notice wasps hovering around when you try to enjoy a picnic.

What do wasps hate?

Wasps are repelled by the smell of certain plants, such as peppermint, cloves, spearmint, eucalyptus, citronella, etc. 
Adding these plants to your garden can help keep away wasps if you don’t want them around. Besides, they also hate cinnamon, sliced cucumber, vinegar, and ground coffee.

Wrap Up

If you have ever wondered why your garden or outdoor BBQ parties attract wasps a lot, you now know why. 

While wasp stings are painful, most of the common wasps do not sting unless disturbed. Of course, there are aggressive species, like yellow jackets, that you should stay clear of. 

If you want to attract more wasps to your garden, just plant flowering plants that produce a lot of nectar. 

Thank you for reading!

Reader Emails

Wasps eat a lot of other things too. Go through some of the weird and interesting things they have been caught eating by our readers in the letters below.

Letter 1 – Io Caterpillar parasitized by Braconid Wasps


what’s on this io moth caterpillar
Hello Mr. Bugman,
I collect these io moth caterpillars after they get just ready to cacoon, and place them in jars with the leaves if the trees they are on for my kids to watch. Yes, I told them about how long the stinging of touching one of them lasts for a week and that it’s like 100 times worse then a bee or wasp sting. (I know it’s kinda the truth, but stretching a wee bit, puts my point across to them..ages 10yr & 11yr) So they know it’s worth the wait for the io moth. Well, I came across one of three and it has what looks like some sort of eggs have been laid on the io moth caterpillar. It is still alive, but only the third of the size of the other two. Can you please tell me what these eggs are and what the eggs will turn into. I searched on the internet for io moth caterpillar enemies, but found nothing. 2 Photos attached. Thanks,
Bradenton, FL

Dear Bugman,
I discovered the contents of the eggs (cocoons), they are little wasps(photo attached), and a normal sized io moth caterpillar(photo attached)…The one with the eggs attached is 1 1/2″ in size. I found three others just the same with the eggs and quarantined them in a separate jar from the other io moth caterpillars. Thanks,
Bradenton, FL

Dear Bugman,
Determined, I did more searching..I finally came up with searching “wasps that use caterpillars as hosts” and viewed the images via google search. It says that it is Cotesia congregata. Can you verify this for me? Thanks,
Bradenton, FL

Hi Judi,
We are very sorry it has taken us so long to contact you, but we have been busy. You searched your way to the correct answer, in a manner of sorts. We would have told you your Io Caterpillar was parasitized by Braconid Wasps. Cotesia congregata is a Braconid Wasp, but it might be species specific to the Tobacco Sphinx, Manduca sexta. We are not certain if the Braconid that parasitizes the Io Moth is species specific. We are not skilled enough to determine your exact species based on the photo of the wasp. That would take a specialist in parasitic wasps.

Letter 2 – Cricket Hunting Wasp


blue wasp
Hi bugman,
Will you tell me what this blue wasp is?. Sorry for the pic quality. I looked at some of your wasp pictures and I don’t know if you have him posted yet. Please don’t post this photo on your ‘bug carnage’ page….I’m doing an insect collection for my biology class and so I’m supposed to kill every insect I see, in the name of education. And I didn’t squash him or swat him to death like some of those other people did…and he is really rather pretty (for a wasp.)
Thank you so much!

Hi Erika,
We thought this looked like one of the Cricket Hunters, so we wrote to Eric Eaton. Here is his response: “Yes, that is a very nicely mounted specimen of Chlorion aerarium, the species that hunts crickets (no official common name that I know of).”

Letter 3 – Chalcid Wasp emerges from Parasitized Eggs


Hey bug guru
I cant tell you how much I appreciate your dedication to one of my geeky passions. Your time and work does not go unappreciated. Please evaluate the attached photos. I hope they meet your guidelines for size. I found a few small eggs on a leaf in a ficus tree in the front yard. Lucky me, I just purchased a new microscope.

The egg pictures were taken at 100x and the hatch was taken at 50x. I live in Mesa AZ. I found the eggs on 4-21-07 and they started hatching on 4-27-07. The little bugger started to warm up and moving subjects at 50x are hard to capture. When he, sorry, or she was fully stretched out it looked like a miniature wasp. Im thinking some kind of boring wood wasp, but Im sure you will set me straight. The attached photos are composite images of over 60 taken on each final photo. The 5mp camera and the Image-Pro Express software are impressing the you know what out of me. The eggs are about half the size of a pin head. In some of the photos you can see small particles of dirt on the side of the eggs. Thanks to you and yours for all your work Thanks
Empire Fluids Lab

Hi Danny,
These are pretty awesome images, though hearing that they are composite has us a bit troubled. We hope the integrity of the actual even is faithful. We suspect that this is some species of Chalcid Wasp. Chalcid Wasps parasitize other insects, and according to the USDA: “All chalcidids are parasitic. Most attack pupae of Lepidoptera and Diptera, but some parasitize other Hymenoptera or beetles. Parasites of Lepidoptera usually attack young pupae, while those of Diptera attack mature larvae (Clausen 1940).” often Bugguide doesn’t have any documentation quite like this, and as the wasp and host are quite specific, we will see if Eric Eaton can assist us in identifying the eggs and wasps. We will also try to contact Bill Oehlke who operates an awesome Sphingidae page since these eggs look like they might be Lepidoptera eggs, and the Ficus Sphinx is a moth that feeds on Ficus. Thankfully, you not only provided us with awesome images, but with enough background information to continue sleuthing until we exhaust our means in the identification.

Thank you so much for you work on this. I want assure you that my integrity is of the highest. I have sent you picture’s in the past. This Leica will not let me take a clear single image and to appreciate the details of the egg I spent a bit of time stacking multiple images. Im dedicated to the appreciation of mother natures gifts. … Thanks again for all your time dedicated to informing the world on BUGS. It is nice seeing others around the world send pictures and how the site is growing. Thanks

Hi Danny,
Consider us chastised. There has been much publicity in the world of photo journalism due to photographers combining images digitally that, while they convey the truth of the experience, are still considered tampering. Your photos are quite gorgeous and the effort you have expended to assure detail in every portion of the image is obvious. We hope that both Bill Oehlke and Eric Eaton respond to our queries. Though we do not know the exact species here, we are still confident that your images are of a Chalcid Wasp. Thanks again for writing.

Update: (05/09/2007)
Chalcids are out of my league, sorry! There are a few critters that just aren’t easily grasped in terms of ID, and those are among them.

Update: (05/10/2007)
I have never seen Pachylia ficus eggs so have nothing to compare these with. All of the Sphingid eggs that I have seen have been green, very smooth and without the upper ring, but I have not seen any under such high magnification. I am not an expert on wasps but I do know that some wasps parasitize eggs. Sorry I cannot be of more help. I suspect caterpillars of many species from many different families feed on Ficus.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 4 – Mexican Honey Wasp


mexican honey wasp
Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 1:56 PM
i am in southern mexico. these wasps make honey. they do not sting, i know this because my worker moved the hive with his bare hand and not one “ouch” or “chinga” as they say here.
wikipedia shows a different type, with yellow bands and say they sting. are these the same?
mark grossman
Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexican Honey Wasps
Mexican Honey Wasps

Hi Mark,
The information we have been able to locate online, including on the Texan Entomology page and on  BugGuide, identifies the Mexican Honey Wasp as Brachygastra mellifica.  According to BugGuide, the Mexican Honey Wasp is :  “Eusocial, that is, completely social, with worker and reproductive castes.  More than one queen per hive, and there are females present with ovaries intermediate in size between workers and queens. Form large colonies by swarming (coordinated groups of queens and workers). Store honey, but do not cap cells, as do bees. Nests are perennial, built in low trees, with as many as 50,000 cells. Remarks One of the very few insects other than bees to produce and store honey.”  It is possible this is a color variation, a subspecies, or a different species in the same genus.

Mexican Honey Wasps
Mexican Honey Wasps

Letter 5 – Sand Digger Wasp Dragging Caterpillar in Czech Republic


the curious case of the hornet in the daytime
Wed, May 13, 2009 at 11:33 AM
I was at a bus stop and saw this winged insect which came walking along pulling what appears to be a caterpillar or larvae. It kept walking for a whole block with it in tow. At one point, the end of the green insect caught on some debris and stretched as if stuck or clinging. I’m curious to know what these insects are, what they were doing, how it was being carried, and where they could’ve possibly been going. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks!
Czech Republic

Wasp dragging Caterpillar
Sand Digger Wasp dragging Caterpillar

Dear Jongela,
Though we cannot tell you the exact identity of the Wasp nor the Caterpillar, we can tell you that many wasps prey upon caterpillars to feed them to the larval wasps. This is behavior often seen in social wasps like hornets and yellowjackets. Many times the wasp will skin the caterpillar and fly off to the nest with manageable sections of the caterpillar. The wasp will “cut” the caterpillar into chunks small enough to fly away with. The fact that this particular wasp is dragging an entire caterpillar inclines us to suspect that perhaps the caterpillar has been paralyzed and will provide a living food source for a developing wasp larva. The adult wasp may provision a nest with living paralyzed caterpillars, laying an egg on each. Perhaps additional research on our part or the input of one of our readers will provide an accurate identification and explanation.  A few minutes of searching led us to the Garden Safari Wasp page that revealed this to be a Sand Digger Wasp, Ammophila sabulosa.


Letter 6 – Predatory Sawfly: Green Wasp from Ireland capturing a Fly


Green Wasp
Location:  Ireland
August 5, 2010 11:02 am
Hi, I saw this little guy in my back garden. He seemed to be catching & killing flies in my lime tree & I have no idea what he is, please help?
Robert Kennedy

Unknown Green Wasp captures Fly in Ireland: Bembicina species???

Hi Robert,
Our initial search for possibilities in Ireland did not turn up anything, so we are posting your letter in the hopes that our readership can contribute some knowledge.  Though the pattern on your unknown wasp is quite different, there are some green wasps in the North American subtribe Bembicina that are also green and capture flies.  Females in the genus Bembix (see BugGuide) provision the nests that are dug in sandy soil with flies to feed the larvae.  You can see examples of Bembicina on BugGuide.

Hi Daniel, thanks for your help. I have shown the picture to a lot of people, young and old and no one has ever seen one before! I look forward to your reply,

Karl provided an unusual Identification
August 9, 2010
Hi Daniel and Robert:
I think this is another kind of Hymenopteran, a Sawfly in the family Tenthredinidae.  There are an impressive number of sawflies in Ireland and the black and green pattern is not uncommon, but this one looks like a species in the genus Tenthredo, possibly T. mesomela. The adults feed on nectar, pollen and small insects and the larvae feed on the leaves of a variety of plants. They range throughout Europe, including Ireland. Here’s one more link. Regards.  Karl

WOW!!!  Thanks so much Karl.  We had no idea that there were predatory Sawflies.  We are sure our readership will really appreciate your diligence in getting this identification to us.

Letter 7 – Wasp Preys Upon Stink Bug


brown marmorated stink bug
Location:  Pittsburgh, PA
September 21, 2010 5:20 pm
I found a little wasp carrying around a little BMSB nymph. I am hoping this may help find a feasible natural enemy. I can’t tell what type of wasp this may be and was hoping you could help out. It must be a solitary type. it did kind of resemble a andrenid bee but, liked to flick its wings. The picture is a little bad but does show some characteristics.
Please include my name and information if you pass this information on.
Signature:  Jordan A. Lipinski, PCO

Wasp Preys Upon Stink Bug

Dear Jordan,
We believe we have identified your wasp as a Crabronidid Wasp in the genus
Astata based on images posted to BugGuide which states:  “Nest in burrows in soil. Each burrow has several chambers. Preys on stink bugs, Pentatomidae. It appears that your specimen is all black which would make it Astata unicolor.

Letter 8 – Wasp and Robber Fly from Oman


Oman Superbug
Location: Jebal Akhdar, Hajar Mountains, Oman
March 17, 2012 7:39 am
Could you please identify this very aggresive large bug. We sighted two in the Hajar mountains of Oman, one of which was clearly eating a cricket and when we closed to look, very aggresively protected his meal.
Signature: Rich, Oman

Cricket Hunting Wasp from Oman

Dear Rich,
Though they may look alike superficially, you have photographed two different insects in completely different orders.  The one with the cricket is some species of Wasp, and we suspect it is a female that has captured a cricket to feed her brood.  Many wasps sting and paralyze prey and return it to the nest where they an egg of the still living prey that will remain alive, providing fresh meat for the developing larva.  The other insect appears to be a Robber Fly that might mimic the Wasp you have photographed.  The legs and antennae of the second insect were the deciding factors in our identification.

Robber Fly


Letter 9 – Parasitic Wasps found in Buprestid Eggs in Sudan


Subject: student need help
Location: sudan africa
December 4, 2013 2:10 pm
This wasp was found inside eggs of buprestidae beetlr
Signature: ms. mawada saad

Parasitic Wasps
Parasitic Wasps

Dear Ms. Mawada Saad,
If they were found in Buprestid eggs, they must be very tiny.  These are many parasitic wasps and the taxonomy of North American species it not very well organized or understood.  We suspect there must be even less documentation on species from Sudan.  We are providing a link to BugGuide so that you can compare your specimens to the images to see if you are able to at least determine a family.  We do not have the training necessary to provide any dependable taxonomy.

Letter 10 – Male and Female Scarab Hunter Wasp: Possibly Campsomeris tolteca


Subject: unknown Hymenopterid
Location: Sherman Oaks, California 91423
March 15, 2014 9:18 pm
Hi. About a dozen of these largish Hymenopterids (4 wings) are flying during the day when the sun is shining on our outdoor patio, circling around; in particular they seem to like some ornamental hollies, but I’ve never seen them land for longer than a second or two. The bugs aren’t aggressive, and if they bump into you they don’t attack. My next door neighbor says that they are on their lawn, so perhaps they are a “not quite solitary” bee group. I don’t recall ever seeing this kind of bug around here before.
I captured one and put it in the freezer which killed it. I’ve attached three photos. The waist is somewhat constricted. Head to tip of abdomen 22mm. At least 11 antennal segments, front wings 3 closed cells. Abdomen 6 or so segments.
Signature: Steve

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp
Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Steve,
We believe this is a male Scarab Hunter Wasp in the family Scoliidae, possibly
Campsomeris tolteca, which is pictured on BugGuide.  This is a highly sexually dimorphic species, with the appearance of the female being so different from that of the male that she appears to be a different species.  Alas, BugGuide does not have any species specific information, but the genus page on BugGuide does provide this information:  “Eric Eaton has pointed out in comments under various photos of Scoliids that there is considerable taxonomic confusion in this family, so that has to be a caveat in any photo identified as to genus here.  According to Nick Fensler: The females Campsomeris as well as other members of the subfamily Campsomerinae are predators on white grubs (Scarabaeidae), using these larvae as food for their young. Unlike sphecids, eumenines, and pompilids these wasps do not appear to have any type of prey transportation and dig to the ground-dwelling beetle larvae, sting it to paralyze it, and then lay an egg. They may dig around the grub to form a small cell. Since they use this nesting strategy they are often seen flying low to the ground (searching) in a figure eight pattern (but the flight pattern gets more erratic when they “smell” something). The adults use nectar as a food source and are common on flowers.”  Male wasps cannot sting as the stinger in the female is a modified ovipositor.  Since they are interested in your neighbor’s lawn, we suspect there is a significant population of Scarab Beetle grubs beneath the surface.  Females are searching for prey that act as food for her offspring, while males may be patrolling for mates.

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp
Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

You may also visit Eric Eaton’s blog, Bug Eric, for more photos on male Scarab Hunter Wasps.

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp
Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

Hi Daniel. Thanks so much for identifying the scarab hunter wasp. Today I finally saw the even larger female (photos attached). A few years ago 3 large trees were removed from the neighbor’s property in the same area where these wasps are flying. Could be that the males are emerging from the ground, and maybe the large number is due to the significant availability of dead roots (from the removed trees) that the beetle larvae feed on. Could be the males like to hang out in sunny areas near a shrub (the holly in my yard in place of the Baccharis as reported on the web) waiting for the females.
Again, thanks! Steve Hartman

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp
Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Steve,
WE are very excited to receive your new photos of the female Scarab Hunter Wasp, but the resolution on the original images you sent was much higher.

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp
Female Scarab Hunter Wasp


Letter 11 – Cabbage White Caterpillars Parasitized by Wasps in Israel


Subject: Parasite chain!
Location: Israel
May 13, 2014 4:09 am
Hi Bug people!
My son and I were witness to a great story unfolding a few days ago. It started with someone eating my son’s colrabi plants, and upon close inspection we collected several cabbage white caterpillars and put them in a large glass jar, along with a few cabbage leaves (from the store but they didn’t complain), and covered with gauze.
Within a couple days, the caterpillars (all of them) climbed up the sides of the jar, anchored themselves to the glass, and died. Numerous small yellow maggots emerged from each one and pupated, so each corpse was surrounded by what looked like yellow woolly rice.
We took some pictures and waited a few more days, and walla! Wasps! (I’m guessing braconids of some sort, but I can’t be sure).
The colrabi – caterpillar – wasp cycle was complete!
I’m attaching some of the pictures so you and your viewers can enjoy.
Signature: Ben, from Israel

Cabbage White with Wasp Pupae
Cabbage White with Wasp Pupae

Hi Ben,
Thanks for sending us these wonderful images of the life cycle of a Parasitic Wasp.  We cannot say for certain what family of Parasitoids this wasp is classified into.  We located an image on Visuals Unlimited of a similarly parasitized Cabbage White Caterpillar, and the parasitoid is identified as
Cotesia glomerata.  Cotesia glomerata is classified as a Braconid on BugGuide, and the adult wasp pictured on BugGuide also looks like your individual, so we are concluding that you are most likely correct.

Parasitic Wasp
Parasitic Wasp
Parasitic Wasps
Parasitic Wasps

Letter 12 – Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass


Subject: parasitoid wasp
Location: Cochise County, AZ
August 1, 2016 10:15 am
Hello! The bug in the picture seems like a parasitoid wasp and I wonder what kind it is and what it is doing on the cadaver of a rat. It looks like it’s stinging the rat but it shouldn’t be laying eggs on it, right? Maybe feeding on small flies on it? The photo was taken March 8th, 2015. Thank you for your help!
Signature: Kana

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass
Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Dear Kana,
We are currently going back through requests sent in the past few weeks that we did not yet open, and we are awestruck at this image.  We agree it is a Parasitoid Wasp and that the host is likely the immature stage of a fly or beetle that is attracted to carrion.  We have not begun the research on this yet, but we did send your image to Eric Eaton to get his input as well.  We are posting it as unidentified and are going to immediately begin to do some research.  This is a very exciting posting for us and we hope to be able to identify the genus or species for you.  This is the kind of posting that validates our practice of going back a few weeks out of guilt to look at all the requests we have left unanswered.

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass
Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Upon doing a web search for “Braconid on Carrion” we found a Google Books online pdf from The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 43 that states:  “Few Hymenoptera are found in carrion; the commonest is a Braconid, Alysia manducator, which is parasitic upon both the Dipterous and Coleopterous larvae (cf. Marshall, Bracon, d’Europ., ii.377); I first took it on a foal at Brockenhurst in May and subsequently on a rabbit in June, also on a horse’s shin bone and a cow’s head in the same month.  An Ichneumonid, Atractodes bicolor, which may be hyperparasitic on the last species (cf. Morley, Ichn. Brit., i, 291 et ii) was taken in a rabbit in September, 1895, in a cow’s head at Lyndhurst in August and in a mole in June; its cousin, A. gilvipes, was once found in a rabbit early in June, 1903.  A second kind of Braconid (? Rhogas sp.) was taken in the same kind of animal at the end of September, 1899; and a third, Meteorus filator, in a rabbit in November. ”  All that is from an old English publication, but it does validate that there are Parasitoid Wasps that will search for hosts on carrion.  We searched BugGuide for the genus Atractodes, and worked backwards to the subfamily Cryptinae, and BugGuide states:  “Mostly external parasites of pupae and cocoons; a few attack wood-boring beetle larvae, others attack larvae of Diptera, a few are hyperparasites of braconids and other ichneumons.”  We similarly searched Alysia on BugGuide and back to the Tribe Alysiini on BugGuide where it states:  “Often in moist habitats and decaying substrates, where host larvae are likely to be found” and “Larvae are parasitoids that feed on larvae of cyclorrhaphous Diptera (advanced flies with short antennae).”  We followed other links and did not find anything that looks like your Parasitoid Wasp, but we know we are on the right track.

Eric Eaton responds
Interesting.  Definitely one of the colorful Braconidae, and she is certainly ovipositing on *something.*
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your reply!  I’m so excited to hear from you.  Your second email is very informative and answers my question why the wasp was on the carrion.  This is the first time I posted my photo on any public website and I’m glad I did.  Hope to hear from you with the species name and I really appreciate your time and effort.

Update from Kana:  August 23, 2016
Dear Daniel,
BugGuide had a photo of wasp very similar to mine and it was taken in my area:  http://bugguide.net/node/view/464251
They filed it under subfamily Agathidinae.  The only thing is that they say it hosts Lepidoptera larvae and it doesn’t explain why mine was on rat.  But thank you for your help!

Hi again Kana,
The BugGuide information “hosts: Lepidoptera larvae” is so general it might not apply to all members of the subfamily.  Some parasitic Hymenopterans are not well studied and many have mysterious life cycles.  The BugGuide information might also be wrong.  Thanks for the update.

Letter 13 – Bug Hunter Wasp: Female Dryudella


Subject: Scarab Hunter or Digger Wasp ID
Location: n. of Phoenix AZ @ Ben Avery Shooting Facility
April 9, 2017 6:09 pm
We wouldn’t have noticed this small critter except for the extremely active, almost demented, way it was scurrying around on the ground in no particular pattern. We didn’t see any others at any time during the week we were there. I tentatively identified it as some sort of digger wasp but your site offers a similar photo and identifies it as a scarab hunter wasp. The eyes in this appear quite blue, which doesn’t seem to match anything but perhaps that’s just a trick of the spring light (3/26/2017) in the unusually lush AZ desert. Thanks for any help in pinning down (painlessly, of course) an identification for this colorful creature…as well as all the enjoyment we get from your site along the way.
Signature: Anne J

Dryudella Bug Hunter Wasp

Dear Anne J,
We love your image.  We believe we have correctly identified it as a
Dryudella species thanks to this BugGuide image.  This little Wasp is in the family Crabronidae, which also includes Sand Wasps, including massive Cicada Killers, while Scarab Hunters are in the family Scoliidae.  Many Crabronids prey upon members of the order Homoptera, and it seems this little beauty is no exception.  According to BugGuide:  “Prey: boxelder bug instars / Foothills species: stinkbug instars”  which should make folks who are troubled by Boxelder Bugs and Stink Bugs quite happy.  Because of its typical prey and because this genus does not appear to have a common name, we are promoting “Bug Hunter Wasp” as a fitting appellation.

Thank you so much!  It does indeed look like the Dryudella photo on your link….right down to the description of the blue eyes.  Now I just have to wonder what it’s prey was since we saw nary a boxelder bug nor stink bug while there.  Of course, that doesn’t mean they weren’t there in the creosote and sunflowers.
We did see Arizona Blister Beetles and have a few decent photos.  A quick search on bug guide didn’t bring them up but I’ll check later and if I don’t find them there already, I’ll load them.  Use the same query form?
Thanks again, Anne & Wayne

Yes, please use our standard form for each new submission.


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8 thoughts on “What Do Wasps Eat? 6 Types of Wasp Diets”

  1. I live in Bushnell ,Florida . Deathly allergic to wasps was out side saw this one on the dirt and I ran so fast. came and googled black and green bug looks like a wasp..your the only picture that turns up. Its beautiful but i’m terrified of it because of my allergy. No money for a epie pen ….. But i’ve spoted some in florida what do they do?

  2. it looks exactly like this. My mother and father have even agreed. They have also seen one. but I also found it digs in the ground and I noticed it was living in the sand of our drive way. I can’t find any other bug that remotely looks like it.

  3. I stumbled across this page in an attempt to identify an insect I was photographing today. It is the same as Robert Kennedys photograph, although appears to be a juvenile. I am delighted to have finally got an ID. What a great site !


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