Florida Wasps: Pictures and Wasp Identification Tips

Florida wasps attract attention for many of the same reasons wasps anywhere attract attention.

A variety of wasps, especially the vespids, are stinging wasps that live around residential areas. The Florida climate is conducive to having wasps around almost year round. So, it’s difficult to get by any day without seeing at least one wasp species.

The introduction to Florida wasps starts with the wasp species considered primary pests, paper wasps, hornets and yellowjackets.

The video shows a typical paper wasp nest with the flat or umbrella shaped nest. Removing the nest while it is being built, rather than waiting for the nest to be completed and filled with wasps removes most of the threat to family members.

These nests are often build around homes, under porches and other areas sheltered from the elements. Removing the nests with a broom during the spring should be enough to discourage the queen and drones from rebuilding.

Either way, it is necessary to remove the nest in order to remove the wasps.

picture of a Southern Yellowjacket, one of two yellowjacket species in Florida
Yellowjackets, on the other hand, build nests in the ground from spring through fall. In the southern end of their Florida range, a colony can stick around until December.

They can aggressively attack family members and pets that stray into their territory. Calling a nest removal expert is usually the best advice one can provide.

The picture shows a Southern Yellowjacket with the two stripes on the thorax. Areas of Florida also host the more common Eastern Yellowjacket. It lacks the thoracic stripes.

picture of a Bald Faced Hornet, part of the Florida wasps collection
Finally, the stark black and white marking make for easy identification of the Bald-faced Hornet. They are related to yellowjackets, however they build large round nests on tree branches and other similar places around the yard.

picture of a European Hornet, Florida wasps
As the name suggests, European hornets are a non-native species that have populated most areas of Eastern North America, including Florida.

They can grow to over one inch in length, so it’s easy to see them when they are in the yard. While they slightly resemble yellow jackets, like Bald-faced Hornets, they build above ground nests.

Florida Wasps – Thread Waisted

picture of a Steel Blue Cricket hunter, part of the Florida wasps collection
A few Florida wasps have a coast to coast range, and the group or family known as thread-waisted wasps is no exception.

With the exception of the Pollen Wasp, wasps are predators. The name of the wasp is a give away for the types of insects they prey upon. Fortunately, thread-waisted wasps tend not to be aggressive. Therefore, there’s little reason to fear seeing them in the yard.

The picture shows a Steel-blue Cricket Hunter.

picture of a Great Golden Digger Wasp, another type of Florida wasp
Partial red legs and a black and red (reddish) abdomen) are the best field ID clues for the Great Golden Digger Wasp. They are not aggressive.

picture of a Yellow Mud Dauber, Florida wasps collection
Black and Yellow Mud Daubers can be considered beneficial insects. They capture spiders to as prey for their larvae. Adults help pollinate flowers. They are not aggressive.

picture of an Ammophila wasp from Florida
Ammophila are another very common thread-waisted wasp. Their prey includes caterpillars and sawflies, two unwelcome garden visitors.

The extremely thin body makes them easy to identify.

More Types of Wasps

picture of an Eastern Cicada Killer wasp in Florida
The name of the wasp often reveals its prey. So it is with the Eastern Cicada Killer wasp. They can grow up to two inches in length, presenting a scary appearance in the yard.

Fortunately the females, the ones that sting, build their underground nests and don’t hang out around the yard. That’s mostly the hunting males.

picture of a Scoliid wasp in Florida
Florida residents concerned about scarab beetles causing lawn damage will be happy to see their local Scoliid wasps nectar on the flowers. In fact, Scoliid wasps often get called flower wasps.

Looking for bright spots or pattern on the abdomen is a fairly good rule of thumb for initially identifying any Scoliid wasp species in the yard.

picture of a wasp in the Myzinum genus
Another family of flower wasp, Thynnidae, also use beetles as prey for their larvae. They generally are medium sized wasps with thin bodies.

picture of a Velvet wasp in Florida
The red, hairy body of Velvet Ants signal danger. The sting of many species are very painful. Males have wings. Females are wingless.

In most of their northern range summer is the peak season. Florida’s warm weather means they can be found in November.