Parasitic Wasps: Get to Know Your Backyard Visitors

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on February 02, 2023 · 3 mins read

If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve probably seen a wasp or two buzzing around your backyard. But did you know that not all wasps are pests? In fact, some species of wasps can be incredibly beneficial for your garden.

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.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at parasitic wasps, one type of wasp you might encounter in your backyard. We’ll explain what parasitic wasps are, why they’re important, and how you can identify them.

What Are Parasitic Wasps?

As their name suggests, parasitic wasps are a type of wasp that lays its eggs on or inside another insect. When the wasp larvae hatch, they feed on the host insect, ultimately killing it. While this may sound gruesome, parasitic wasps actually play an important role in controlling insect populations in your garden.

Benefits of Parasitic Wasps

Parasitic wasps are considered beneficial insects because they help keep other insect populations under control. They’re especially useful for controlling pests like aphids, caterpillars, and whiteflies, which can damage your plants and reduce their yield.

Types of Parasitic Wasps

There are many different species of parasitic wasps, each with their own unique characteristics. Some common species of parasitic wasps include:

  • Braconid wasps: These small wasps are black or brown in color and have long antennae. They lay their eggs inside the bodies of other insects, often caterpillars or beetle larvae.

  • Ichneumon wasps: Ichneumon wasps are long and slender, with a needle-like ovipositor (an organ used to lay eggs) that can be several inches long. They lay their eggs inside the bodies of other insects, often wood-boring beetles or moth larvae.

  • Chalcid wasps: Chalcid wasps are tiny, often less than 2mm long. They lay their eggs inside the eggs or larvae of other insects, including moths, beetles, and true bugs.

  • Trichogramma wasps: These tiny wasps are only about 1/50th of an inch long. They lay their eggs inside the eggs of other insects, such as moth and butterfly eggs.

How to Identify Parasitic Wasps

Identifying parasitic wasps can be tricky, as they come in many different shapes and sizes. However, there are a few things to look out for that can help you identify these beneficial insects:

  • Color: Parasitic wasps come in a range of colors, from metallic green or blue to black or brown.
  • Size: Parasitic wasps vary widely in size, from less than 1mm to several inches long.
  • Ovipositor: If you’re lucky enough to get a close look at a parasitic wasp, you might be able to see its ovipositor. This is a long, slender organ that female wasps use to lay their eggs.


Now that you know a little more about parasitic wasps, you can appreciate these fascinating insects the next time you spot one in your backyard. Remember, while they may look intimidating, they’re actually doing your garden a favor by keeping pest populations in check. So instead of reaching for the bug spray, sit back and enjoy the show!