Black Wasps – Everything You Should Know

There are different types of wasps in the world and the western side of the United States has a number of species that are attracted to the climate. The great black wasps is one of these and has one of the most painful stings among species of wasps. People fear these kinds of pests because they are known for their sting. The great black wasps do look the part when it comes to scary pests. 

How to identify a black wasp 

The great black wasp, as the name suggests, is one of the biggest species of wasps in size. The black, mono-colored wasp has no spots or stripes or any kind of pattern on it. The adult female can grow to ta length of 1- 1 1/2 inches, and is a bit larger in size than the male. 

You can identify the black wasp even during it’s flight since it does not tuck its legs in the way other wasp species do and flies with the legs dragging in the air. Their type of hum when flying is also distinct from other wasps but you would need to know what the others sound like to differentiate it. 

The black wasp’s nest

Black wasps make nests which are dug into the ground. You may be used to the yellow jackets or paper wasp’s nest which are hanging, but the great black wasps like to build its mud nest below the ground. The wasps are solitary and do not move in colonies like other wasp species. The nest may hold multiple larvae as the wasp lays many eggs. 

The contents of the mud nest  

Being a solitary insect, the black wasp does not have a big nest. In the outdoors the wasps can have their nests underground or hanging from a tree but if they infest your home then you are likely to find them around the windows and on the ceiling in neglected rooms around the home. The mound of mud that is the black wasp’s nest may be small but you will be surprised to find out what it holds.

The nest is full of creatures that you wouldn’t imagine fit into the small cramped space. Usually, you will find caterpillars and wasp larvae in the nest. The larvae have a chocolate-brown color and may be bigger than the caterpillars. Once the larvae have hatched from the eggs, they attach themselves to the caterpillars and suck them for nutrition until they can move on to the next stage of development. Once the larvae have had their fill they can now develop into the pupa stage. 

The egg of the black wasp 

In the tiny nest of the black wasp the eggs are attached to the roof by a tiny thread that is almost invisible to the naked eye. In many wasp species the female finds food before it can start laying its eggs but in the case of the black wasp it is the opposite. The female will lay eggs first and then go out to source for food for the larvae that will hatch.

The nest has an opening of about 5mm that a caterpillar of specific size can fit through as well as the black wasp. This tells you that the wasp takes time to find prey that will fit the nest. The wasp has to be choosy when it comes to finding prey because they have to find caterpillars with the size that will fit the nest. Once the wasp has delivered food it covers the hole and builds another nest adjoining to the smaller one repeating the process over and over until she has laid all her eggs. In the nest the larvae are protected from ant attacks that can wipe out the whole nest if they find their way inside. 

Are black wasps dangerous? 

The sting of the great black wasp is painful and you may need hospitalization with three or more stings in one region of the body. Even so, the intimidating pest is not as aggressive as it’s outward appearance may suggest. As a matter of fact, the male wasp has no stinger and will not attack you in any way. The adult female, which carries the stinger, never attacks humans unprovoked and will only get to you if you have disturbed the nest in an attempt to protect it. Though the sting of the wasp may be painful, it is nothing compared to the dose of poison that the Tarantula Hawk Wasp can deliver with a single sting. The Tarantula Hawk Wasp can leave you with an itch that lasts for days after the sting. 

Local reactions to a wasp sting 

The normal local reaction includes a welt that develops on the site. The welt may have a tiny white mark right at the middle where the stinger entered the skin. The swelling and pain from a sting of the wasp should last for some hours before it subsides. 

There are people who may experience a more pronounced local reaction to the sting which indicates an allergic reaction to the sting. Though the reaction is much more serious than the normal reaction there are no adverse or life-threatening symptoms such as anaphylactic shock. In such a case the person may experience swelling and redness that worsens for about a day or two after the sting. This may also be coupled by vomiting and nausea. 

The reaction 

subsides in the week that follows. You are advised to let your doctor know about the sting as they can prescribe an over the counter antihistamine that can calm things down much quicker. With such allergic reactions, you may experience symptoms on the first sting that you will never feel again. In other cases the symptoms are usually the same. 

Anaphylaxis and a wasp sting 

Anaphylaxis is a state of shock that the body goes into once stung by a wasp or bee. Though the great black wasp does not typically induce this type of reaction upon stinging, it has been known to happen. In most cases, this state sets in very quickly after the sting and you should seek immediate medical attention when it does. 

The symptoms of such a reaction include: 

  1. swelling of the throat, lips and face.
  2. dizziness
  3. itching or hives in the regions of the body that have been stung
  4. lightheadness
  5. diarrhea
  6. nausea and vomiting
  7. weak, racing pulse
  8. stomach cramps
  9. sharp drop in blood pressure

You may not experience many of these symptoms on the first sting but have them on the second sting. People with a history of anaphylaxis are reminded to carry a bee sting kit when in the outdoors as these contain epinephrine injections that can help alleviate the symptoms as soon as they set in. The most important reasons for the shot is to return the affected person’s breathing and heart rates back to normal. 

Quick facts you should know about the great black wasp

  1. The male is smaller than the female and does not sting since it lacks a stinger.
  2. Wasps generally like meat and the great black wasp will use the venom in its sting to catch small insects like flies and caterpillars paralyzing them before they can consume them.
  3. Wasps also pollinate flowers in the same way bees do in their search for nectar and mostly serve the rare orchids. 
  4. Wasps can be a benefit and a pest at the same time. They will eat fruits and berries in your garden and you run the risk of being stung but they will also keep the flies away since this one of their staple foods.
  5. Wasp venom is much like snake venom; however, it will rarely affect humans in the same way since the wasp releases it in much smaller doses. The venom is full of peptides whose purpose is to breakdown tissues. 


The black wasp may not be really big as an insect, but it is generally an interesting animal to study. Scientists have for a long time been puzzled by this insects, and that is why there exists large volumes of documents full of information about this interesting insect. It is quite intriguing that while the male wasp does not sting, it is still capable of surviving in the wild and getting to its pray.

There is a lot more to discover and marvel at when it comes to this insect, and I hope you found this information offered in this piece quite fascinating. 

2 thoughts on “Black Wasps – Everything You Should Know

  1. Can I simply just say what a relief to uncover somebody that truly understands what they are talking about on the net.

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