Types of Wasps

Wasps are a diverse group of stinging insects in the United States. Despite many structural and behavioral differences among species, the pests do have a few things in common. For example, most types of wasps will sting to defend themselves or their nests, making removal a priority for those with infestations in and around their homes. In addition, these pests often prey on other insects, which sets them apart from nectar-drinking bees.

Social vs. Solitary Wasp Species

Generally speaking, types of wasps fall into one of two categories: social or solitary. Since they keep to themselves, solitary wasps typically pose less of a pressing issue for homeowners. Social wasps, on the other hand, are protective of their colonies. Their defensive behavior frequently results in conflicts with people and pets that result in episodes of stinging.

Common Types of Wasps

Some of the wasp species homeowners are most likely to encounter include:

  • Paper Wasps – This social wasp is less aggressive than some of its relatives. However, because the pests can build nests in wall cavities or behind roof eaves, paper wasp infestations still present problems.
  • Bald-Faced Hornets – Don’t be fooled by their name. This pest is a type of wasp but not a true hornet. Bald-faced hornets are notable for their large colony sizes and football-shaped nests, plus their aggressive behavior when needing to protect their nest.
  • European Hornets – Members of this species can grow to over one inch in length, making European hornets one of the biggest wasps in the United States.
  • Yellow Jackets – Eastern and western yellow jackets prefer to live in dark, enclosed areas like holes in the ground. They’re quick to sting if they suspect danger.
  • Mud Daubers – This solitary wasp species is important because the pests construct nests made from mud and soil-colored nests under building overhangs and inside outbuildings such as sheds.
  • Cicada Killers – As their name suggests, this type of wasp is primarily a threat to cicadas since these wasps prey upon cicadas. However, cicada killers’ unground nesting habits may cause minor structural damage to soil under porches and patios. Their large size may cause a sense of fear to homeowners who observe these insects entering their underground nest with a paralyzed cicada that will become food for the immature stage of this insect.


Whether a wasp species is social or solitary, these pests can put residents in danger when they settle in or around homes. A stinging attack often leads to a few or perhaps even several days of discomfort at the site of the sting. Multiple stings may escalate into a serious medical situation, especially for those with wasp allergies.

The best way to avoid conflict with wasps is to contact professionals as soon as nests show up in the spring or summer. The technicians at Orkin have experience with all types of wasps and can assist with safe removal.