It’s like something from a horror movie, but you can’t look away. A giant black insect flies through the air with a paralyzed cicada in its jaws. It lands in the dirt and begins to stuff the creature into a hole in the ground, where hungry larvae will consume it while it’s still alive. No, you didn’t walk onto a creepy kaiju movie set. It’s just a great black wasp, going about its daily business.
Are Great Black Wasps Dangerous?
Great black wasps may be fearsome looking, but they typically aren’t aggressive toward humans. Unlike yellow jackets and other social wasps, great black wasps are solitary and don’t have a large colony to defend – or join them in an attack. A female great black wasp can sting, but she will only do so if provoked or her nest is threatened.
Great black wasp stings do happen, but they rarely cause more than moderate pain at the site of the sting. As with other insect stings, some individuals may have an allergic reaction, ranging from redness and swelling around the sting to anaphylaxis, which constitutes a medical emergency. If you are stung by a wasp and experience severe swelling of the face, lips, or throat, hives, dizziness, breathing problems, or a weak pulse, administer an EpiPen, and call 911 immediately.
What Is The Difference Between A Mud Dauber And A Wasp?
With so many species of wasps calling Long Island home, it’s easy to confuse great black wasps with mud daubers. They’re both solitary wasps that only sting when provoked, but they are pretty different in where they nest and what they eat.
Mud daubers get their name, as you might expect because they use mud to build their nests. Long Island hosts three species of mud dauber wasps – the organ-pipe mud dauber, the black and yellow mud dauber, and the metallic blue mud dauber.
Like the great black wasp, mud daubers are large, with the females averaging between 1.5-2 inches long. Unlike the great black wasp, which is monochromatic, dauber species vary in color.
Mud daubers build their nests above ground, under eaves, on walls, or other flat surfaces. Female daubers collect mud and form it into either a group of cylindrical shapes (organ-pipe daubers) or a smooth, fist-sized nest (black and yellow daubers). Blue daubers don’t build their nests; they take over abandoned nests formerly used by their black and yellow cousins.
Great black wasp females build their nests underground. They use their mouth and legs to dig a tunnel about a foot below ground where they will nest, lay their eggs, and feed their larvae.
Mud daubers and great black wasps consume insects but choose very different prey. Mud daubers are spider hunters, whereas great black wasps eat crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers. Like most wasps, both paralyze their prey with venom, preserving it for up to a week so it can be eaten slowly while still alive.
What Wasps Are On Long Island?
Long Island is home to a variety of wasp species, solitary, burrowing wasps, and nesting, colony-based wasps that often swarm in large groups. In addition to the great black wasp, mud dauber wasps and cicada killer wasps are solitary insects that build underground nests and rarely attack unless provoked.
Yellow jackets, paper wasps, and European paper wasps are “social” wasps that nest in large colonies. Of these, the yellow jacket is the most aggressive, repeatedly stinging when threatened.
Twin Forks Pest Control® Is Your Wasp Removal Professional
Unless someone in your household has a wasp allergy, finding the occasional great black wasp on your property probably isn’t an issue. If allergies are a factor, or if you see colony-based wasps like yellow jackets or paper wasps, the time to take action is now. Because of some wasp species’ ability to attack repeatedly and en masse, it’s highly recommended that you leave removal to an experienced professional.
Contact. Twin Forks Pest Control® today for an appointment to discuss wasp removal and all your pest control needs. Southampton residents please call (631) 287-9020. Easthampton residents, please call (631) 324-9020. Southold residents, please call (631) 298-0500.