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Black Wasps in Florida.

What Are Those Black Wasps in Florida?

Black Wasps in Florida.

Florida's warm climate not only invites sun-seeking tourists. It also hosts mysterious winged residents – black wasps.

Black wasps are common in Florida and help the environment by pollinating plants and controlling pests. Each species is distinct in size, behavior, and preferred habitats.

While black wasps typically don't show aggression towards humans, what do you do if you accidentally disturb their nest?

In this article, you'll learn to identify different types of black wasps. You’ll also understand their behavior and the common sites of a wasp nest. Additionally, you’ll learn professional pest control methods that could prevent infestation problems and ensure a safe coexistence with black wasps.

Key Takeaways

  • Black wasps are common in Florida, helping the environment by pollinating plants and controlling pests.
  • Black wasps are generally solitary and not aggressive toward humans. But they may sting if they feel provoked or threatened.
  • Safe coexistence with black wasps is possible with proper interaction and control measures.

Identifying Black Wasps in Florida

Florida has different types of wasps. Learning about their distinct appearance and behavior can help you coexist with them safely.

Physical Characteristics

Black wasps typically have a shiny black body with slight color variations depending on the species. Their body has three parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen.

The abdomen of a black wasp can sometimes feature yellow markings, which aid in identification. For example, cicada killer wasps have pale-yellow markings, while yellowjacket wasps have alternating black and yellow markings.

The size of black wasps ranges from ½ to 1½ inches in length. Female wasps are slightly larger than males.

  • Color: Predominantly black, some with yellow or white markings
  • Size: Typically ½ to 1½ inches
  • Body segments: Head, thorax, abdomen

Common Species

1. Great Black Digger Wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus)

Social or Solitary?

Solitary nature


Recognizable by its size, black coloration, and occasional yellow markings on the abdomen

Other Traits

Blue or purple sheen on wings

Nest Type

Typically a burrow in the ground

Sphex Pensylvanicus.

2. Mud Dauber Wasp (Sphecidae)

Social or Solitary?

Solitary and non-aggressive


Recognizable by its “thread-waisted” body (long, slender segment between the thorax and abdomen). Builds distinctive mud nests, often on vertical surfaces

Other Traits

Preys on spiders to feed their larvae

Nest Type

Cylindrical mud tubes

Mud Dauber Wasp (sphecidae).

3. Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus)

Social or Solitary?

Large, solitary wasp


Recognizable by its size, dark coloring, and yellow markings on the abdomen

Other Traits

Hunts cicadas to provision their nests

Nest Type

Burrows in the ground

Cicada Killer (Sphecius speciosus).

4. Paper Wasp (Polistes spp.)

Social or Solitary?

Social insects living in colonies with a queen


Recognizable by its slender “waist" between the thorax and abdomen. Builds distinctive nest out of paper-like material

Other Traits

Generally non-aggressive but may sting if threatened

Nest Type

Open-celled, umbrella-shaped structure made from chewed-up wood pulp.

Paper Wasp (polistes spp.)

5. Yellowjacket (Vespula spp.)

Social or Solitary?

Social wasps living in colonies


Recognizable by black and yellow markings

Other Traits

Can be aggressive, especially when their nest is threatened

Nest Type

Papery, enclosed structure, often underground

Yellowjacket (vespula spp.)

Habitats and Nests

Preferred Habitats

Black wasps are not overly selective about where they live. They adapt to various habitats. So, you can spot them in rural and urban settings across Florida.

  • Residential areas: Gardens or yards
  • Natural settings: Flowering fields and open woodland
  • Urban spots: Parks and green spaces
  • Near water: Lakes and riversides

Nesting Sites

When constructing nests, black wasps show specific preferences:

  • In the ground: Patches of soil or sand to dig nests.
  • On structures: Under the eaves of buildings or inside hollow walls.
  • Among vegetation: On tree branches or wood cavities

These nests are usually well-constructed and protect the developing wasp larvae.

Behavior and Interaction

Diet and Prey

Adult black wasps feed on nectar for energy and various arthropods for protein. Meanwhile, they place paralyzed prey (usually caterpillars and spiders) alongside their eggs in nests, providing a food source for the emerging larvae.

Human Interactions

Black wasps are generally not aggressive. While they might be a bother if nesting in busy areas, they play a beneficial role in controlling pest populations.

Interaction with Humans:

  • Generally avoid contact
  • Sting if provoked, which can be painful
  • Can be a nuisance in high-traffic areas
  • Beneficial for pest control in gardens and lawns

Management and Control

Effectively managing and controlling black wasps in Florida requires a mix of targeted control methods and preventive measures. Prioritizing safety is crucial, as mishandling wasp encounters may lead to painful stings and swelling.

Wasp Control Methods

Start by inspecting your property for nests. Consider using a long-reaching net or wasp spray for nests on high surfaces or underground nests.

If wasps present an immediate threat, opting for professional pest removal might be the safest route.

Preventive Measures

Avoiding wasp-related issues begins by securing potential nesting sites. Simple home maintenance can discourage wasps from making your property their home. Fix holes or gaps on exterior surfaces and ensure you properly seal garbage cans to avoid providing a food source for these insects.

Minimize the wasp population around your home by strategically placing wasp traps during peak activity periods in early summer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify the types of black wasps found in Florida?

You can identify Black wasps in Florida by size, color, and wing patterns.

What should I do if I'm stung by a black wasp?

If a black wasp stings you, remove the stinger if it's still present. Clean the affected area with soap and water and apply ice to reduce swelling. In cases of severe allergic reactions, seek medical attention promptly.

Are there any particularly aggressive wasp species I should watch out for in Florida?

While most black wasps are not aggressive, take caution around the Southern Yellowjacket. It can be more aggressive, especially when their nest is threatened.

What are the nesting habits of black wasps in Florida?

Black wasps are solitary insects that often build nests in the ground or cavities in wood.

Can black wasps be dangerous or poisonous to humans?

Black wasps are not considered dangerous or poisonous to most humans. Their venom is used primarily for paralyzing prey. However, individuals who are allergic to wasp stings may experience severe reactions.