Where Do Wasps Migrate to in the Winter?

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Wasp and hornet colonies typically die in the winter, not migrate.
Wasp and hornet colonies typically die in the winter, not migrate. (Image: hornet image by Dwight Davis from Fotolia.com)

The United States hosts many species of wasps and related insects, and they are abundant during the summer. During the winter, however, the different species find different ways to stay alive, although they don't migrate.

Life Cycle

Most yellow jackets, paper wasps and related wasps only live for one season. A fertilized female is able to overwinter to begin a new colony in late winter or early spring, according to the University of California's Integrated Pest Management Program. Some larger wasps, such as bald-faced hornets, overwinter in their larval stage while the rest of the colony dies.

Overwintering

New adult queens who survive the winter may choose overwintering spots such as among litter or debris to protect themselves from the cold, or paper wasp queens may huddle inside a home for warmth in search for a winter spot, according to the University of Maryland.

Significance

Most species' queens do not reuse the previous year's nest to start the new colony. You can more easily remove nests during fall and winter without fear of stinging females. Warmer climates with mild winters, such as those in the south or south of San Francisco in Coastal California, may allow colonies to stay alive during the winter.

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