Wasps are typical garden pests that can recur each year even when you spend time destroying their nests in the summer. In this article, we’ll explain how long do wasps live so that you’ll know when to expect them and how long you’ll need to hold out before they go away.
Wasps hibernate in the winter, construct new nests in the spring, expand their nests in the summer, and prepare for hibernation in the autumn. Wasps are the most energetic during the expansion phase of the summer, as this is when food is the most readily available.
During the preparation for hibernation, most of the remaining wasps die of old age or cold. Importantly, wasps lose a substantial amount of vigor as they prepare for hibernation. This means that at the end of the autumn, the remaining wasps are likely close to death.
In the winter hibernation, the queen wasp is typically the only survivor. While several drones and worker wasps will aggregate around the queen wasp and shiver to keep her warm, they are unlikely to survive the winter because they will prioritize spending their energy on shivering to keep the queen warm rather than to sustain themselves.
This means that at maximum, answering the question of how long does a yellow jacket live is a question of how long the wasp species’ lifecycle is within its primary season.
The Wasp Life Cycle
Wasps begin their lives as eggs laid by the queen. Then, eggs hatch wasp larvae, which are fed by workers or the queen. Wasps remain as larvae for around three weeks, though the precise timing varies by species and geography.
After the larval stage, wasps pupate, briefly cocooning themselves and transforming into mature wasps. Once the wasps are adults, they spend their time feeding other larvae in the nest, arranging eggs, and storing food into honeycombed cells.
After reaching maturity, the adult wasps have little ability to repair any injuries which they sustain. This means that in an area with a lot of predators like sparrows, wasps may die sooner than they would otherwise.
Male wasps die soon after depositing their sperm into the queen wasp. In contrast, queen wasps can live for multiple years, but typically only live for one full year at the most. The reason for this is that in many wasp species, the queens become depleted and lethargic after they found their first colony and live inside of it for a season.
Because the lethargic queen is even more exhausted after hibernating through the winter, there is seldom much more they can do before dying.
Adult Wasp Lifespan
The lifespan of an adult wasp varies depending on where they live and what kind of wasp they are. In general, wasps in warmer climates will live longer than wasps in cooler climates. In climates where there is no cold season, wasps can sometimes live for many months on end.
However, because many areas have a cold season, wasps typically only live for the duration of the warm season at the most. As always, wasp queens are the exception to the rule and tend to live significantly longer than their compatriots.
How Long Do Yellow Jackets Live?
Yellowjackets live roughly the same amount of time as the average for wasps. This means that yellow jackets live for a maximum of four months. Under normal circumstances, you should probably expect the average lifespan of a yellowjacket to be closer to two or three months, however, as some yellow jackets are lost to attrition from the environment.
How Long Do Wasps Live Indoors?
Wasps tend to live for significantly shorter durations when they are indoors because when wasps are indoors, they are isolated from their food sources as well as their preferred resting location.
When wasps are indoors, they are also vulnerable to becoming dehydrated and dying. This means that indoor wasps seldom live for more than a few days or a week at the very most. How long a wasp can live in your house is limited by the wasp’s access to the resources that it needs to survive.
The story is entirely different when wasps can establish a nest that is partially indoors and partially outdoors, however. In these situations, the wasps can live indefinitely indoors, even beyond their normal life cycle.
Thus, you should be very wary about allowing wasps to establish their nests in indoor spaces if they try to do so whatsoever.
What Kills Wasps?
Wasps are often eaten by predators like sparrows or ravens. Similarly, wasps often fall prey to several parasites, which cause them to die. While the prevalence of predators and parasites is challenging to estimate, you can rest assured that the larger the population of birds in your area, the shorter the average wasp will live.