Wasps, aggressive little insects sometimes called hornets, have a painful sting. Although their aggression really comes when they feel threatened or to protect their nests (or their family) this sting is enough to help ward off predators.
With over 110,000 identified species (and more yet to be identified) wasps lie at the top of the invertebrate food chain. As annoying as they seem, this is important to ecosystems as wasps help keep other pests down, allowing plants chances of survival.
Wasps themselves still have enemies to look out for, including humans, of course.
What Eats Wasps?
Their vicious sting in addition to their yellow and black coloring helps wasps ward off most attackers. Still, there are some animals willing to dine on a tasty wasp treat given the opportunity. These include:
Wasps themselves eat other insects and are often used by farmers to help protect crops.
But in a bug eat bug world, wasps sometimes end up as a meal for praying mantis, robber flies, dragonflies, centipedes, hoverflies, beetles, and moths.
Certain kinds of wasps, like Bald-faced hornets and European hornets, will also prey on other wasps.
Any wasp unlucky enough to get stuck in a spider’s web will most likely end up part of the spider’s meal.
3. Reptiles and Amphibians
A hungry animal is a hungry animal. Opportunistic feeders will not turn down the opportunity to snack on wasps. This includes frogs, lizards, toads, salamanders, and turtles.
Bullfrogs eat anything they can catch, including wasps. Iguanas, salamanders, and geckos, in particular, enjoy a meal of wasp and will eat adult wasps or chew through nests to dine on wasp larvae.
Asian geckos make a habit of preying on a large wasp with a truly painful sting called Polistes.
Most birds that eat insects regularly will dine on the occasional wasp, although they know to only go after wasps flying around alone. They stay away from wasp nests where the gang is ready to protect one another.
There are at least 24 species of birds that eat wasps. Some like starlings, blackbirds, and magpies intentionally hunt down lone wasps for a meal. Some birds, such as tanagers, break off the wasps stinger before eating it, thus protecting themselves from a painful attack.
Most mammals that eat wasps tend to focus on the larvae rather than adults.
Black bears and badgers will destroy whole wasp colonies in order to get access to eggs and larvae.
Other animals that will brave a wasps nest for a feast of larvae and eggs include: rats, skunks, raccoons, weasels, and wolverines.
Hedgehogs prey on wasps because their thick spines protect their skin form the vicious sting of an angry wasp.
Bats who make a habit of eating insects will include adult wasps in their diet.
6. Carnivorous Plants
Yes, that’s correct, plants like sundews and pitcher plants eat insects, and wasps are no exception.
While any wasp can fall prey to these animals (and plants) there is a little variety depending on the species of wasp. Read on for more information.
What Eats Paper Wasps?
The predators of paper wasps include the animals listed above, especially hedgehogs and badgers who will go after nests. Humans, who fear wasp stings, also destroy paper wasp nests.
Paper wasps get their name from the way they build their nests. Red Wasps, a species of paper wasps, get their name from their reddish-brown bodies and dark wings.
No matter the species, paper wasps use fibers from dead wood and plant stems (much like paper). Their nests sometimes looks like an umbrella, thus giving them the alternate name of umbrella wasps.
Paper wasps are considered beneficial to the environment, because adults eat caterpillars and other insects that can destroy plant life.
What Eats Cicada Killer Wasps?
Cicada killer wasps make their nests by digging underground burrows. They feed their young by bringing paralyzed cicadas into their nests where they remain as a nourishing meal for their grub-like larvae.
While they can fall prey to any of the above animals, badgers could be the primary culprit, as they enjoy going after burrowing wasps. Badgers use their strong forelimbs and sharp claws to dig for food. And if that food just happens to include a cicada killer wasps nest, and everything inside, there is little that can prevent this.
What Eats Gall Wasps?
There are numerous different species of gall wasps, also known as gall flies. They get their name from the galls–or growths– that they cause on plants in order to raise their young. These galls generally protect the wasp larvae from attack, but there are several sneaky predators that still manage to gain access.
Gall wasps are at risk from other, parasitic, predator wasps that manage to penetrate the protective walls of the gall, and lay an egg inside. This results in the parasitic wasp feasting on gall larvae and eggs, so that in the end the only type of wasp emerging from the gall is the invasive species.
Tiny beetles will also sneak in so that their larvae can dine easily on larval gal wasps. Birds like downy-woodpeckers and black-capped chickadee break into the galls to get access to the tender larvae inside.
What Eats European Wasps?
Unlike other wasps species, European wasps (also known as German wasps) are considered pests, especially in areas like Australia and New Zealand, where they are an introduced species. They are a destructive species that are difficult to manage.
These opportunistic predators and scavengers that eat dead animals, live insects, processed human foods, garbage, and are attracted to sugary fruits and drinks. These aggressive wasps can sting multiple times and have been known to kill pets and even livestock.
Other than becoming an occasional meal for some of the regular culprits, there is NO NATURAL PREDATOR of these dangerous wasps other than humans.
Wasps are truly interesting because they have such a bad reputation. Of course, sometimes that is earned (as in the case of European wasps). Yet as Ryan Brock, a journalist for The Independent, points out: “A world without wasps would be catastrophic for ecosystems and the world economy.”