Wasps make up an enormously diverse array of insects, with some 30,000 identified species. We are most familiar with those that are wrapped in bright warning colors that buzz angrily about in groups and threaten us with painful stings.
Their appearance varies tremendously depending on species. Most have two pair of wings and a pinched waist. They range in colors from black to metallic greens and blues and vary in size from almost microscopic to several centimeters long.
In spring, queens emerge from hibernation and make a new nest. Over summer the nest expansion and the number of workers increases. In autumn the nest produces males (drones) and females (new queens) which can reproduce. In winter, new queens fly away from the nest and hibernate and the nest usually dies. Sometimes nests can survive winter and thus skip the ‘new nest’ phase.
Some wasps are aggressive species and can sting when threatened. Unlike honey bees, wasps often are capable of stinging multiple times. Wasp species are categorized as social or solitary. As their name implies, social wasps live in colonies, which may number in the thousands. Within these colonies, female workers perform all duties within the nest. Solitary wasps live alone and therefore do not have a colony. They lay eggs, but their eggs are left alone to hatch.