In December 1749, John Bartram, an English botanist, got recognized by the Royal Society of the City of London for his work, A Description of the Great Black Wasp. This served as the first record of this insect in the new world.
The great black wasp, or the Sphex pensylvanicus as it is scientifically known, is a part of the Sphecidae, a diverse group of thread-waisted wasps.
Though they may look frightening, great black wasps benefit the ecosystem. Why? Because these solitary bugs help to keep nuisance bugs in control and aid in pollination.
However, if black wasps venture into your property. They can become a primary source of headaches, especially if you have a wasp phobia (or spheksophobia).
Despite their benefit, great black wasps can be a bit handful. If they feel threatened or pissed off, the wasps can deliver potent and painful stings. No one want’s that. Right?
In that case, here are a few ways you can get rid of great black wasps indoors or from your backyard. But first, let’s learn more about these buzzers.
What is a Great Black Wasp?
If you live in North America, chances are you’ve seen great black wasps before because they are native to this region. But they also have other regions across the US, except for Pacific Northwest. All thanks to their ability to adapt to different environments.
That said, the great black wasp is a large species of digger wasps (known for building their nest underground). It’s also called the Katydid Hunter and the Steel-blue Cricket Hunter.
Additionally, great black wasps are solitary creatures, who rarely form colonies or hives for nesting. This is good news because you don’t have to fear a black wasp infestation in your home.
How to Identify a Great Black Wasp
Well, you can’t get rid of an insect when you don’t know how it looks.
Some of the most well-known wasp species, like hornets, Mud Daubers, or yellow jackets, rock the infamous black and yellow pattern. But the great black wasp is entirely black with wings that radiate a blue iridescent sheen.
These wasps are also quite large, reaching up to 1 to 1.5 inches. But the females often grow larger than the males.
And on top of that, great black wasps have long antennae, a large head, and large compound eyes. Their wings usually fold lengthwise on their back and have a narrow constriction between their thorax and abdomen, a common feature among the Sphecidae.
It gets better. These wasps have huge sickle-shaped mandibles with additional spike overlapping at the front. The spike assists them in sucking bodily fluids or liquified insides of their prey.
Like bees, great black wasps’ bodies are covered with fine hair that collects pollen when feeding on nectar. Let’s not forget the potent stinger that they utilize to immobilize prey and defend themselves.
Life Cycle of Great Black Wasps
All species of digger wasps always nest underground. Thus, it stands that female great black wasps will also build their nests underground. Their nests are usually a work of art, as great black wasps are excellent burrowers and builders.
The females begin by finding an ideal area to burrow and build a nest- preferably areas with dry and soft soil that is easy to dig into.
After that, they use their mouth and spiny legs to burrow into the soil and create tunnels and chambers for laying and incubating eggs. The chambers also feature paralyzed prey, whether cricket or grasshopper, which will serve as food when the wasps hatch.
Like every other wasp, the great black wasp will undergo a complete metamorphosis until it becomes an adult inside the nest.
The eggs start as larvae and develop into pupae near the end of fall. They will stay in their burrows until winter ends when food becomes plentiful again. At this point, the larval wasps turn into mature adults and leave the nests.
But how long do great black wasps live?
On average, a great black wasp can live for at least 20 to 22 days. But queens can live for as long as an entire year.
6 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Great Black Wasps
With that out of the way, let’s check out some effective techniques to get rid of great black wasps from your property.
1. Eliminate All Hiding Places
Great black wasps prefer building their nest in obscure and inaccessible places to reduce chances of predation. This trick also ensures the safety of the unhatched eggs and their food.
Sadly, inaccessible areas could mean areas near your house. Luckily, these wasps rarely built their nest indoors. But if one gets it into your home, it means there’s a nest nearby.
More often, black wasps gain access through your home through openings on your exterior wall, floor, and basements. So, it helps to seal up potential entry points such as cracks, crevices, gaps underneath doors, and other areas of your home.
And don’t stop there! Remove weeds from your garden and keep the grass on your lawn at a uniform length. Since these insects need dry soft soil to build their nests, water your lawn frequently. Or, you could plant new grass on the dry patches on your lawn.
What’s even better, keeping your grass short might repel other pests like grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, katydids, and cicadas. This allows you to eliminate the black wasp’s food source.
2. Grow Wasp Repellant Plants
For those who enjoy gardening, the sight of great black wasps can be disturbing or even scary. However, there’s a perfect explanation for why these insects are attracted to your garden.
First, you have colorful, blooming flowers like sedum and Agastache that attract wasps. Second, your garden harbors potential prey like grasshoppers, caterpillars, and katydids that black wasps need to feed their offspring.
But don’t worry! We have a solution. You can introduce new wasp-repellant plants into your garden, including:
3. Essential Oils
It is widely known that great black wasps are very averse to strong scents. And since most essential oils have potent smells, they act as a proper wasp repellant.
This method is highly effective, especially inside your home. Some popular oils you can use to repel these buzzers include:
- Peppermint oil
- Clove-Geranium- Lemongrass Oil Combo
- Cedar oil
- Lavender oil
- Eucalyptus oil
4. Home Remedies
Do you love a hands-on approach when it comes to pest control? Then, we have a few home remedies you can try.
#Number 1: Mix 2 cups of water and several drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. Shake the solution well until it becomes frothy. Spray the solution in areas frequented by the great black wasp. Once in contact, the soapy water will coat the insects’ spiracles, making it difficult to breathe or fly.
#Number 2: Make a wasp trap using a water bottle filled with baits like syrups. Next, place it in your backyard, away from high traffic. The sweet nectar-like scent from the syrup will lure wasps into the bottle, where they will get trapped and eventually drown.
5. Chemical Removal
Insecticides are a surefire way to deal with the black wasp problem and prevent future infestations.
But we suggest you stick to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent any side effects on you, your family, pets, and the environment.
For the best results, use insecticides that specifically target ground dwellers. Also, invest in insecticide sprays that shoot about 20-22 feet. That will minimize your exposure to the chemical.
6. Toss Food Scraps and Seal Trash Cans
After coming out of their nest in summer, wasps often seek protein-rich foods. That’s why you will see them buzzing near picnic or barbeque spots, looking for some leftover meat pieces.
They also love sugars and will often look for sweet foodstuffs such as left-over fruits, food scraps, and man-made sweets. Wasps can also drink out of open alcohol or soda cans.
To avoid attracting these insects, remove food debris and open soda cans from your surroundings. Clean your grill and the picnic area as well.
And the final point, seal up your garbage cans or empty them regularly.
Are Great Black Wasps Dangerous to Humans?
The great black wasp might seem intimidating because of its size. However, they’re generally not an aggressive species. A great black wasp stings only when threatened or provoked. Furthermore, only adult females have stingers.
Although a black wasp sting may be painful, it’s not fatal, unless you are allergic to it. In such cases, you might develop several allergic reactions, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness and fainting
- Tightness in your chest or throat
- Swollen mouth
Any adverse allergic reactions will require you to seek immediate medical attention.
Benefits of the Great Black Wasp
The great black wasp is a very misunderstood insect. Due to its large size, and probably lack of information about them, many people consider these insects pests and strive to get rid of them.
But they are great pollinators. Great black wasps feed on nectar. That means they access a lot of flowers in a day. The more they move around, the more they transfer pollen from flower to flower. Hence, facilitating pollination and fertilization.
The great black wasp is an example of how mother nature creates balance and harmony in the world. With their stingers and hairy body, these wasps help control pest populations and aid in pollination.
Most people don’t have an issue when these bugs buzz around, doing their thing. The problem comes in when these wasps take a liking to certain nooks and crannies around their property.
Their presence can quickly turn your peaceful home into a living. But fortunately, you can use the tips above to keep your home free from these pesky intruders.
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