How To Identify Different Types of Wasps

Identifying different types of wasps can be extremely helpful for understanding their behaviour, determining the level of threat they pose, and implementing appropriate control measures.

While wasps can be similar in appearance, there are distinct characteristics that can help differentiate between species.

Here are some key features to consider when identifying different types of wasps.

Size and Coloration

Size and colouring are key for wasp identification. Common yellow jackets measure 0.5 to 1 inch, sporting black and yellow stripes over their body.

Paper wasps vary in size from 0.75 to 1.25 inches with possible brown, red, or yellow coloration patterns while mud daubers have slender figures usually between 0.5 -1 inch long featuring mostly black or a blue metallic hue on their exterior.

Nest Characteristics

Examining nests can unearth valuable info for identification. Yellow jackets usually construct their dwellings in the soil or concealed places like wall crevices, whereas paper wasps build open, umbrella-shaped abodes crafted of a papery material.

Mud daubers create mud nests – often seen as lengthy tubes or cylindrical structures affixed to walls, ceilings, and other surfaces.

Body Shape and Markings

With a range of body shapes, wasps can be easily identified by their markings. Yellow jackets are round and compact with black and yellow stripes along the abdomen. Paper wasps boast slender bodies with distinctive bandings of black and yellow on their underbelly.

On the other hand, mud daubers show off long physiques in shades from glossy blue to jet-black.

Facial Features

Assessing the facial characteristics of wasps can be key in determining their species. Yellow jackets have a black and yellow face with black antennae, while paper wasps usually present reddish-brown or dark brown colouring on their head along with long antennae. Mud daubers are identifiable by their slender waist and thin antennae.


Yellow jackets tend to exhibit aggressive tendencies around food sources or trash cans, whereas paper wasps typically forage for insects or hover near nests without displaying hostility unless provoked.

As opposed to these other two species, mud daubers are solitary creatures that rarely sting unless they feel threatened directly.

Geographic Distribution

Where they live can give clues to what type of wasp you’re dealing with. Different species are found in different areas, so knowing the range can help narrow it down.

When attempting to identify wasps, take care and keep your distance – getting too close could lead to a nasty sting. If an area is particularly dense or there’s any doubt about identification, call in experts for professional wasp control advice.

Correctly identifying wasps is essential for ensuring safety and using the right methods when controlling them.