Learning About Massachusetts Wasps: Understanding the Difference Between Wasps and Bees

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on May 07, 2023 · 3 mins read

If you’re like most homeowners in Massachusetts, you’ve probably seen your fair share of wasps buzzing around your backyard. With their distinctive black and yellow coloring and slender bodies, it’s easy to mistake them for bees. However, wasps are actually quite different from bees, both in appearance and behavior.

DIY Wasp removal recommendations

For non aggressive wasps I've had great luck spraying the nests with this Spectracide wasp remover in the evening. For more aggressive wasps I also use this rediculous looking upper torso Beekeeping suit. It seems silly, but trust me, it's amazing.

What Are Wasps?

Wasps are a type of flying insect that belong to the Hymenoptera order, which also includes bees and ants. Unlike bees, which are covered in fuzzy hair, wasps have smooth, shiny bodies. They also have a more defined waist than bees do, with a narrow connection between their thorax and abdomen.

How to Tell the Difference Between Wasps and Bees

While wasps and bees may look similar at first glance, there are some key differences that can help you tell them apart. One of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two is to look at their body shape. As mentioned before, wasps have a narrow waist, while bees have a more robust, rounded body.

Another way to tell the difference is by looking at their behavior. Bees are known for their important role in pollination, and they spend much of their time collecting nectar and pollen from flowers. Wasps, on the other hand, are predators. They hunt other insects, like caterpillars and spiders, to feed their young.

Common Types of Wasps Found in Massachusetts

There are several different types of wasps that are common in Massachusetts. Here are a few that you might encounter in your backyard:

  • Paper Wasps: These wasps get their name from the paper-like material that they use to build their nests. They are typically brown or black in color with yellow markings.

  • Yellow Jackets: Yellow jackets are a type of social wasp that live in large colonies. They are black and yellow in color and can be aggressive if their nest is disturbed.

  • Hornets: Hornets are another type of social wasp. They are larger than yellow jackets and are typically black and white or black and yellow in color.

Understanding Wasp Behavior

As mentioned earlier, wasps are predators that hunt other insects. This means that they play an important role in controlling pest populations in your yard. However, they can also become a nuisance if they build their nests too close to your home.

If you encounter a wasp in your yard, it’s best to give it plenty of space and avoid disturbing it. If you find a wasp nest on your property, it’s best to call a professional exterminator to remove it safely.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between wasps and bees is important for homeowners in Massachusetts. By learning to identify different types of wasps and understanding their behavior, you can better protect yourself and your family from potential stings. Remember to always be cautious around wasps and to seek professional help if you have a problem with a wasp nest on your property.