How to Identify Wood Wasps

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Most people notice when wasps are swarming. But wood wasps may also be lurking in-and slowly devouring-your overhangs, porches, door frames and window frames. How do you go about identifying wood wasps, the medium to large-sized wasps that live in and feed on wood?

  • Look for woodpeckers and other birds going after the wood. Birds can often hear larval wood wasps moving around inside the wood and are looking for their next meal.

  • Try to find holes in the wood. Exit holes, where the wood wasps leave their nests, are about 1/4 inch in diameter. In some cases, you may find between 10 and 50 exit holes in places with a large colony of wood wasps.

  • Look for adult wasps flying in and out of the exit holes, which may be a sign of female wood wasps nesting in preparation for laying eggs.

  • Examine a wasp if you can. An adult wood wasp is metallic blue-black, 1 inch to 1.5 inches long and, unlike other wasps, the waist of the wood wasp does not narrow.

  • Try to determine how big the problem is if you're pretty sure you've identified wood wasps, then research the options available to you to eliminate them.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wood wasps live in and feed on mainly softwoods such as pine, spruce and fir.
  • Wood wasps will eat through siding and even asphalt as a means of getting back to the area where they have built nests.
  • Wood wasps have a long life cycle that can take years to complete, so a lot of damage can be done by wood wasps before you detect and identify them.
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