Understanding Wasps in Chicago, Illinois: What You Need to Know

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on January 03, 2023 · 3 mins read

As a homeowner in Chicago, you may have noticed some buzzing and flying insects in your backyard. Some of these may be wasps, a group of insects that can be both fascinating and potentially harmful. In this article, we’ll talk about the different types of wasps you might see in Chicago, and what you need to know to safely coexist with them.

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.

Types of Wasps in Chicago

There are several types of wasps that may make their home in Chicago backyards. Here are some of the most common:


Yellowjackets are social wasps that build paper nests in trees, bushes, or underground. They are known for their aggressiveness when defending their nest and can sting multiple times. Yellowjackets are attracted to sweets and proteins, so be sure to keep food and garbage tightly sealed when eating outside.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps look similar to yellowjackets but have longer bodies and legs. They build open, umbrella-shaped nests under eaves or in other protected areas. Paper wasps are generally not aggressive unless their nest is disturbed. If you find a paper wasp nest on your property, it’s best to call a professional to have it removed.

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers are solitary wasps that create nests out of mud. They are typically black or metallic blue in color and are not aggressive towards humans. Mud daubers prey on spiders, making them beneficial to have in your garden as natural pest control.

Cicada Killers

Cicada killers are large wasps that hunt cicadas and other insects. They are not usually aggressive towards humans, but their size can be intimidating. Cicada killers dig burrows in the ground and can sometimes create patches of dead grass in the process.

How to Coexist with Wasps

While some types of wasps can be dangerous, they also play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling other insect populations. Here are some tips for safely coexisting with wasps in your Chicago backyard:

  • Keep food and garbage tightly sealed when eating outside
  • Avoid wearing bright colors or strong perfumes, which can attract wasps
  • Stay calm if a wasp lands on you and avoid swatting at it, which can make it more aggressive
  • If you find a wasp nest on your property, call a professional to safely remove it
  • Consider planting flowers and herbs that attract beneficial wasps like mud daubers and parasitic wasps

By understanding the types of wasps you might encounter in your Chicago backyard and taking steps to coexist with them, you can enjoy a peaceful and natural outdoor space.