Black Wasps: Facts, Identification and Their Sting

Black wasps are burrowing airborne insects that make small burrows in the ground and eat small arboreal insects for sustenance.

Facts, Identification, and Control

Understanding the basics about black wasps is necessary if you want to identify them and subsequently keep them suppressed.

Latin Name

The formal scientific binomial nomenclature for the black wasp is sphex pensylvanicus. Colloquially, black wasps are also known as great black wasps, small black wasps, and black hornet wasps.


The black wasp is a large black flying insect with one pair of dark blue gossamer wings, long antennae, and six legs which taper in thickness further from the thorax.

Facts about Black Wasps

Black Wasps aren’t the most dangerous or troublesome pests. While they might dig small holes in your garden to make their burrows, overall, they are beneficial because they predate on common pests like weevils and cicadas.

Do great black wasps sting?

Great black wasps sting their prey to paralyze it, but only females are capable of stinging. This means that 50% of all black wasps which you encounter will not be able to sting because they are male.

Black wasps aren’t aggressive, so you shouldn’t worry about getting stung by a female black wasp unless you’re directly hassling them or their nest. If you are stung, you should not have significant pain or swelling, though a small amount of pain is to be expected.

Where Do They Live?

Black wasps reside in small underground nests that are dug by the female members of the species. Typically, black wasp nests are in loamy or soft soil rather than rocky soil.

Geographically, black wasps are found in forested areas all over North America. Exceptionally humid or moist forests are unlikely to have a significant black wasp presence, however.

What Do They Eat?

Black wasps eat leaf-insects (katydids), grasshoppers, cicadas, and locusts. They may also opportunistically eat other small arboreal insects, ants, and aphids.

How Did I Get Black Wasps?

In the spring, black wasps hatch, try to find a mate, and females try to form a new burrow. There isn’t much that you can do to stop black wasps from moving into your area if there is a suitable patch of terrain.

How Serious Are Black Wasp Problems?

Overall, black wasps are not very serious pests.

Problem #1 – Being Annoyed By Wasps

Wasps are annoying when they live in your area because they can fly around and intimidate you or your family.

Problem #2 – Killing Pleasant-Sounding Insects

If you like the sound of crickets, cicadas, and locusts, having a large black wasp population will ensure that you don’t hear their chirping as frequently.

Problem #3 – Burrows in the Soil

Black wasp burrows in the soil might change the drainage properties of the garden or deny nutrients to plants.

What Can I Do About Black Wasps?

If you want to get rid of black wasps, most permethrin-based pesticides will do the trick. Spray in the wasp nests as you find them, and the wasps will soon die.

Signs of a Black Wasp Infestation?

The most significant signs of a black wasp infestation are finding wasps flying around or spotting their burrows. You may also find that cicadas, grasshoppers, and locusts are no longer audible because they have been eaten.

Black Wasp Prevention and Control Tips

If you find a black wasp problem in your garden, you’ll need to use these tricks to handle them.

Control tip #1 – Spray Pesticide On Nests

Spraying a basic permethrin-based pesticide on the nest of a black wasp will be sufficient to kill the wasps inside as well as any eggs.

Control tip #2 – Spray WD-40 On Nests

A can of WD-40 aerosolized grease is also an effective anti-wasp measure. Spray the lubricant into a nest or onto a wasp directly for quick grounding and killing, but try not to breathe any in.

Control tip #3 – Add Gravel To Soil

Wasps can’t burrow effectively in rocky soil, so adding gravel or other small rocks to the top layer of soil will prevent them from getting their nest established.

Black Wasp Professional Pest Control

Controlling black wasps is significantly more comfortable when you hire a professional. Professionals will be able to locate the wasp nests rapidly and destroy them without causing collateral damage to beneficial pollinators and other insects.

Similarly, professionals can identify whether black wasps are performing a beneficial role in pollinating your garden or whether they are harming other predators in the food chain, which can help with the control of more harmful pests.

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