Insect that looks like large Yellow Jacket

californianMay 7, 2009

I have some kind wasp I guess that looks like a large Yellow Jacket that has been making small mud nests under my house eaves for many years. They don't sting, at least I have never been stung by one, and they are not aggressive. They seem to be constantly searching plant leaves for something, but they aren't eating the leaves. I am guessing they are looking for some insect prey, although I never saw them attack anything. They do not go on flowers so they are not nectar eaters. They make nests with about five or six adults in the small colony. Anyone know what these are, and can I assume they are a beneficial insect?

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gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)

One of our most common wasps in California is the paper wasp (a few species of Polistes). They are about twice as long as our common "yellow jackets" but not as proportionately thick.

They can, indeed, sting but they are happier catching caterpillars and stuffing them into their muddy-papery homes where they lay their eggs upon them.

Joe

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 7:12PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Some mud wasps hunt spiders. It's like something out of a bad horror movie: they sting the spider, which puts it into suspended animation, then they cart if off to their mud nest, entomb in in mud with a wasp egg on it, and leave. The spider is consumed alive by the wasp larva(e?). Eeeewwww.

I love their mud nests, although the paper wasp nests are even prettier.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 10:23PM
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napapen(ca 15)

I have both types and leave them alone as the IPM helpers. They overwinter in my sheds and wood pile. They also seem to recognize my voice as I talk with them when I am near. Once I saw a Mom come in and feed the 6 little one - it was like looking in a bird nest!

Penny

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 12:03PM
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tanya47

I am a new gardener. At first I was afraid of these, as I hate yellow jackets terribly.
One morning I saw one hunting in my tomatoes, and catching and eating a little green caterpillar.
WOOT! I was like, you are my new best friend!! Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 11:47PM
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tanya47

I am a new gardener. At first I was afraid of these, as I hate yellow jackets terribly.
One morning I saw one hunting in my tomatoes, and catching and eating a little green caterpillar.
WOOT! I was like, you are my new best friend!! Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 12:03AM
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