Wasps That Burrow

Written by mark orwell
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Wasps That Burrow
A yellowjacket feeding. (yellowjacket defends flower image by Tom Stewart from Fotolia.com)

Wasps are small, but their sting can pack a punch. More often than not, however, they are docile creatures. Many of them can be found burrowing in the ground, usually to nest.

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Digger Wasps

Digger wasps come in two varieties: blue and gold. Blue digger wasps are about 3/4 of an inch long, while gold digger wasps reach up to 1 inch, making them one of the bigger species of wasps. However, digger wasps are generally calm insects that help control pests. Digger wasps emerge from their ground nests in the morning, hovering about 1 foot off the ground during the day, and heading back to their nests at night. These solitary wasps dig their nests and lay their eggs, along with a grasshopper or caterpillar, in cells in those nests. They are then left alone to hatch, feed off their meal and grow into adults.

Spider Wasps

Spider wasps grow to 1/2 an inch long and have dark bodies with long, spiny legs and blue or black wings. They move quickly and erratically as they hunt. As their name suggests, they hunt spiders. After mating, male spider wasps die and female spider wasps go hunting. They will sting a spider, paralysing it, and attach one egg to each spider they catch. These spiders are placed in underground tunnels or mud nests. When the eggs hatch, the wasps feed on the spider until they grow into adults.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are a notable wasp because they often invade large outdoor gatherings, picnics and barbecues. These wasps often annoy picnickers because they feed on food with high sugar contents. Usually this includes flower nectar or fruits, but cookies and cake attract them just as well. They also have a notorious sting that some people are allergic to. Unlike the other burrowing wasps, yellow jackets are a social type of wasp. They build papery nests under the soil or in rotting wood that can house hundreds of wasps. These nests are abandoned over time, though, as the wasps move on or die.

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