List of the types of Wasps in Texas and details you need to know about them.
Wasps are flying insects that are similar in form and appearance, and also closely related to bees. Wasps generally have bodies that are divided into the Head, the Thorax and the abdomen. Wasps generally have bodies that are elongated, and devoid of hair. Some types of Wasps are social insects and live in colonies or nests with workers, soldiers, and a queen. All wasps species, however, have the ability to sting, although the potency of the toxins varies according to species- some species have stings that are of little medical consequence, while others have potentially deadly stings.
In Texas, there are several types of wasps, all playing important roles in the ecology. Some of these wasps are beneficial to the ecosystem, and indeed to farmers because they are pollinators, while others are beneficial because they eat up garden pests. Over the years, many wasps have become used to human presence, and as such even build their nests right on the human houses, barns and such places as they find conducive. In this article we want to look at some of the types of wasps in Texas, we also want to learn some interesting facts about them, and what role they play in the ecology. Let us move forward.
Types of Wasps In Texas
1. Paper Wasps
The name “paper wasps” is broad, and often embraces a number of subspecies: typically hornets and yellow-jackets wasps. In all, there are about twenty-two species of paper wasps that have been identified and labeled in North America. We will, however, class them as one broad species because their differences are basically superficial, and besides, we are concentrating on Texas here, and the wasps that can be found therein.
The Most Distinctive Feature is their Nests
The nests of most true paper wasps are simple and open in design. When we say open what we mean is that the cells are visible even though they are sealed when there are eggs or larvae in them. However, the combs are open and you can see each individual cells. The nest is often small- and can have between 10 to 20 cells. Paper wasps secrete a special chemical which repels ants-they then spread this chemical around the base of the nest, or around the anchor with which the nest is attached to the tree or wall of the chosen site. This does the job of preventing the loss of eggs or brood.
The nests are made from ‘paper.’ However, Paper wasps produce their own paper out of chewed plant fibers, the binding agent is their saliva. Nests can be found in sheltered areas, such as the eaves of a house, farm barns, branches of trees, on the end of an open pipe.
Behavior and Aggressiveness
Paper wasps are quite docile and will generally only attack if they themselves or their nest are threatened. The problem is that they can feel threatened without people even being aware of their presence: if a person comes too close to a paper-wasps nest without known that it is there he could get stung. The paper-wasps territoriality can lead to attacks on people, and because their stings are quite painful and can lead to ugly swellings, and most critically can be fatal- It can cause an anaphylactic reaction in some individuals. For these reasons, paper-wasps nests in human-inhabited areas may be considered dangerous.
Paper wasps feed on nectar from flowers, making them important pollinators, and they also eat other insects including caterpillars, flies, and beetle larvae which can be destructive to farms and gardens. Because they are a known pollinator of garden plants and trees both domestic and in the wild paper wasps are often considered to be beneficial by gardeners, and are often encouraged to thrive.
How to Identify them:
You can identify paper wasps most distinctively by their nests which have the appearance of being made from paper. You can also identify them from the fact that the most dominant color on their bodies is black. There are only specs of yellow sprinkled mostly on their abdomens, while their wings are brown.
2. Yellow Jackets
Yellow-jacket is another kind of wasps that is an important member of the ecology of the state of Texas. The wasps are commonly called Yellow-jacket or yellow jacket and are predatory social wasps of by nature. They get their names from their appearance as most of them are black and yellow.
Diet and Behavior
The diet of the adult yellow-jacket wasp is made up primarily of items that have a high amount of sugars and carbohydrates. In the wild, that would naturally mean such items as fruits, flower nectar, and tree sap. Larvae, however, feed on proteins that are derived from insects, meats, and fish, which are collected by the adults. The adults first chew and condition the food items before feeding them to the larvae. The yellow jacket is important to the ecosystem because many of the insects that are killed and collected by the adults are considered pest species which can damage farms and gardens, and that means that the yellow-jacket is beneficial to agriculture. Yellowjacket larvae, in return, secrete a sugar material which is then eaten by the adults. This mutually beneficial relationship is technically called trophallaxis.
As summer draws to a close, foraging workers start to pursue other food sources ranging from meats to ripe fruits, or more easily they just go into human garbage. It is at this time that they are mostly found at picnics and around people’s homes. They do this because additional sugar is needed to prepare the next generation’s queens.
How to Identify them
Yellow-jackets can be identified by their distinctive markings of yellow and black, and also by the fact that they live only in large colonies instead of the small nests that paper wasps build. Then there is also the characteristic, rapid, side-to-side flight pattern that looks like a zig-zag movement. All the females of this species are capable of stinging.
Yellow-jackets are important predators of pest insects and you may find them hunting in your garden.
Yellow-jackets are often confused with other wasps, especially hornets as well as paper wasps such as Polistes dominula. A yellow-jacket worker is typically about 12 mm (0.5 in) in length, having alternating bands on the abdomen. The queen, however, is usually larger, about 19 mm (0.75 in) in length.
Sometimes, Yellow-jackets are mistakenly called “bees”, apparently because they are similar in size and general coloration to honey bees. Other people may see their colonies and mistake them for beehives. However, make no mistake about it; yellow-jackets are actually wasps. Even though yellow-jackets have yellow or white markings that are similar to honey bees, their bodies are not covered with dense hair, and they do not carry pollen. As a matter of fact, they do not have the flattened, hairy hind legs that bees use to carry it.
3. European Hornets
The European hornet (Vespa crabro) is another very important type of wasps in Texas. This is the largest (by body length) eusocial wasp which is actually native to Europe. The European hornet is also the only true hornet that is found in the whole of North America and was introduced by European settlers in the 1800s. The European Hornet is usually regarded as a pest by many humans who come into contact with it.
European Hornets are known for making intricate paper-like nests out of surrounding plant materials and other fibers. Interestingly though, Unlike most other wasps who control the reproductive abilities of the workers through chemicals, reproductive suppression in the European Hornet involves worker policing instead of queen pheromone control.
Behavior and Aggressiveness
The European Hornet is generally a gentle giant among wasps species, this type of wasp only stings if has been stepped on or grabbed- without that it generally avoids conflict. It is also defensive of its nest or nesting area and can sometimes be aggressive around food sources.
European hornets are largely carnivorous in nature, and they generally hunt large insects such as beetles, other species of wasps, large moths, dragonflies, and even praying mantises. They will also feed on ripe fruit and other sources of sugary food.
How to Identify Them
The eyes of European Hornet are deeply indented and also shaped like a “C”. Its wings are reddish-orange, while the petiolate abdomen has stripes of brown and yellow. It has hair on the thorax and abdomen, which would make it look more like the bee, although the European hornet is not as hairy as most bees.
As per size, the European Hornet is massive in proportions; typical mass size for the European Hornet is 059.9 mg, Workers average around 25 mm in length, while the queens are gigantic by comparison with other wasps- they can reach up to 35 mm. If you are privileged to take a closer look you will find that Females are typically larger than males in both size and mass, and also that male abdomens have seven segments, but the females of this species have six segments in their abdomens.
Conclusion On The Types Of Wasps In Texas
If you find wasps around your home it is important to know exactly what type of wasps you have. This is because some types of wasps (as we have mentioned above) are not aggressive and can easily coexist with humans. If you have any medical conditions that make it dangerous to be in close proximity with wasps (for fear of being stung) then it is advisable to contact a pest removal expert to remove the wasps from your house. Be advised, however, that some species of wasps are endangered, and it is criminal to kill them in some countries, where the fine is as high as 50,000 euros.