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Black Wasp in Texas: Identification & Control Tips

a black wasp on Texas wildflowers

Texas is home to many different types of creepy-crawlies that sting, bite or otherwise cause trouble for people. This includes thousands—yes, thousands—of different species of wasps. One type of wasp commonly found in Texas is black wasps. True to its name, a black wasp in Texas is a flying insect with a narrow, black body, long black wings and a stinger.

Most black wasps in Texas are cricket hunters, so named because they sting crickets (or sometimes grasshoppers or katydids), drag their paralyzed bodies to their wasp nests and lay eggs on the crickets’ backs. When the wasp eggs hatch into larvae, the wasp larvae have ready meals waiting for them—the crickets.

While their reproductive habits are definitely gross, there is good news about black wasps. If you find one in or near your home, you can breathe at least a little bit easy, because black wasps are not known to be aggressive insects. In other words, unlike some other types of wasps, they aren’t likely to pursue you and attack you with their stings. Furthermore, these wasps are pollinators and so many people consider these insects beneficial.

Still, most people don’t want any type of wasp in or around their homes. So what can you do to get rid of black wasps if you find them near your Texas home? The first thing to do is to learn a bit about these insects so you can make sure you’ve properly identified them. Certain types of mud dauber wasps are all black in color, like cricket hunters. But, there are differences between mud daubers and cricket hunters that can help you differentiate the two.

Cricket hunters are actually different from other types of wasps in several ways. For one thing, while many types of wasp build their nests up high, such as in trees or around the eaves of your home, cricket hunters build theirs in the ground. Also, since they aren’t “social wasps,” they don’t live in the huge colonies that many other types of wasps live in. (Mud daubers are also solitary wasps.)

This is actually related to why both cricket hunters and mud daubers aren’t aggressive. An interesting fact about both these types of black wasps is that only the females of the species can sting. Since they aren’t defending a big colony, they usually only sting people if provoked or if they otherwise sense they’re in danger. That’s why it’s a good idea to stay away from a black wasp if you encounter one. Give it a wide berth, and chances are it won’t bother you.

If you do get stung by a black wasp, it’s possible you could have a reaction if you’re generally allergic to wasp stings. But, it’s very unlikely that you’ll have any life-threatening symptoms like going into anaphylactic shock. Most people experience a black wasp sting as painful in the moment. While some people do experience swelling, redness and pain at the site of the sting, these symptoms should fade soon.

You can find cricket hunters flying around throughout the year in Texas, but they’re seen most often in late summer and fall. You might also see them out and about during warm periods in winter. When they come indoors, it’s often by way of a nest they’ve built inside the wall of a home or other building. Brick homes with weep holes, for example, are a prime spot for cricket hunters to nest. So are homes with pier-and-beam foundations that black wasps can dig beneath to lay their eggs.

Sometimes, multiple female cricket hunters use the same area for gathering crickets and laying eggs. This can even happen with hundreds of crickets and wasp eggs in the same spot. Once the eggs hatch into larvae and then pupate, they’ll then fly out as adult wasps—sometimes, all together in a group. Sometimes, instead of flying outside, they accidentally fly into the home through small gaps around air vents, doors or windows. This can make it seem like there’s a black wasp infestation in the home, inside the walls or somewhere within the flooring. In reality, these wasps are trying to fly outside to their natural habitat, in order to live their lives.

If there’s a single black wasp inside your home, you can deal with it using a fly swatter. Or, if you’re softer of heart than that, by capturing it inside a cup and then setting it free outside. If a lot of black wasps emerge into your home at once, on the other hand, trying to swat them down or capture them all to release outdoors won’t be possible. So what can you do to get rid of these unwanted invaders, and make sure they don’t return again?

Getting rid of black wasps can be a difficult and time-consuming process, which is why many people choose to hire a pest control professional to take on the job. Controlling black wasps involves a combination of the following measures:

  • If you live in a brick home with weep holes, fill the weep holes with steel wool to keep pests out. (Black wasps aren’t the only creatures that might use weep holes to access your home’s interior walls. Other insects and even mice have also can crawl into weep holes.)
  • Fix any gaps in exterior walls around windows, doors, vents, hose bibs, and so on. This will keep wasps and other pests from using these small entry points to get inside your home.
  • If you can spot areas in the ground around your home where it looks like there’s evidence of a wasp burrow, you can fill in the nesting spots with dirt or gravel. Or, you can cover them with landscaping fabric and then add stones, decomposed granite or mulch over the top.

Controlling these pests in and around your home is mostly about prevention. A pest control specialist can find the spots where cricket hunters are nesting and can recommend spots in your home’s structure that need to be sealed off to keep wasps from bothering you and your family inside.

a mud dauber which is a species of blue wasp in Texas

Blue Wasp in Texas: What Is It?

If you spot what looks like a blue wasp in Texas, what you’re most likely seeing is a type of wasp called a mud dauber. Mud daubers grow to about three-fourths of an inch to an inch long. They can be a dull black color, black with yellow markings or a black color that is actually a deep iridescent blue.

Female mud daubers use mud to build nests where they can lay eggs. The perfect mud dauber nest site will be someplace that provides shelter from rain and other weather, with easy access to both mud and spiders. In many people’s homes, this might be under the eaves on an exterior wall or near a door that is underneath an overhang or portico.

Mud dauber wasps use spiders in much the same way that cricket hunter wasps use crickets. They build a nest, sting a spider to paralyze it and then drag the spider into the nest to lay an egg on the spider’s back. Some types of mud daubers build nests in elongated cells or tube shapes, while others build nests that look more like random clumps of mud.

Either way, inside the dried mud are open spaces where the mud dauber lays an egg on the spider’s back. She might stuff each opening or cell with more spiders before sealing it off with more mud. When a mud dauber egg hatches into a larva, it eats the spiders as its first meal before pupating.

If you find what looks like a clump of dried mud stuck to the outside of your home in some high-up area, there’s a good chance that it’s a mud dauber nest. Mud daubers, like cricket hunters, aren’t considered aggressive wasps. They aren’t “social wasps,” and they don’t have a huge colony to protect. So, they normally don’t sting people unless they are threatened or provoked.

Still, most people don’t want to encounter mud daubers, even if they aren’t at much risk of being stung. Contacting a pest control professional is a good way to control these pests if you see a lot of them or their mud nests around your home or property. A pro can determine exactly what type of insect pest you’re dealing with and offer solutions to keep wasps away.

a cicada killer which is a type of ground wasp in Texas

Ground Wasps in Texas

If you spot ground wasps in your yard, they could be cricket hunters, if they’re black and no more than an inch long. But there are other types of ground wasps in Texas, including digger wasps and cicada killers. Cicada killers are a type of large wasp that feeds cicadas to its developing offspring. If you spot a ground wasp that is alarmingly big—up to two inches long—and black with yellow markings on its body and reddish-brown wings, it’s probably a cicada killer wasp.

Another sign that cicada killers are nearby is holes in the ground, about the size of a dime. These holes are the entry points to these wasps’ underground nests, where they drag their cicada prey after stinging them to paralyze them. Inside the nest, the wasp lays an egg on or near the paralyzed cicada. Once the egg hatches, the larval wasp will then feed on the cicada for the nourishment it needs to grow.

Cicada killers have a scary name, and they definitely look threatening, but they actually aren’t aggressive. They leave humans alone for the most part, as long as we leave them alone. They are also pollinators, so many people don’t see them as the type of insect that needs to be controlled or exterminated. Still, many people understandably find cicada killers to be scary and undesirable.

If you see several cicada killers around your property, you can always reach out to a pest control professional. A professional can discuss ways to reduce pest populations around your home and yard. A professional will also have multiple tools at their disposal to both control wasps and other pests. This way, you don’t have to worry about these creatures.

ABC Can Deal With Your Wasp Problem

It can be frightening for you and your other family members when there are wasps on your property. When you contact ABC Home & Commercial Services, you can have peace of mind that we will create a custom pest control plan to treat your wasp problem. This can mean removing, relocating or treating the bee hive or wasp nest, so you and your family can feel comfortable again.

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