Wasps of the Arizona Desert

Southern Arizona is home to several different native wasp species. Most wasps are able to sting multiple times (unlike bees) and use their stinger to paralyze their prey and that they use as the first meal for their newly hatched young.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are the most common wasps found in the Tucson and Green Valley communities. They’re often referred to as yellow jackets because of their coloring – brown or black with yellow stripes – but they are actually a different species of wasp. They build nests that are made of a paper-like material shaped like an upside-down frisbee hanging from eaves, light fixtures, and patios. It is common to see them flying around pools, fountains and other bodies of water. They will aggressively sting when they feel threatened or attacked.

Mud Daubers

These black colored wasps build nests made of mud tubs packed together – hence the name mud daubers. They are typically found in areas with more moisture and mud nearby. They are generally thought of as a harmless pest because they aren’t as aggressive as paper wasps. In fact, they can be considered a beneficial pest because they are both a native pollinator and a predator for other insects like spiders.

Tarantula Hawk Wasps

These larger wasps sometimes get up to two inches long and have a metallic-black body with bright orange wings. Tarantula Hawk wasps get their name because they target tarantulas with whom they wage a long, fierce battle. Eventually, they paralyze the giant spider and use its body to lay their eggs. They are not aggressive to humans, but if stung, it’s considered one of the top ten most painful stings in the world.

Cicada Killer Wasps

This wasp has received a greater deal of attention recently from many people in Southern Arizona concerned about the storied Murder Hornet that was identified in the Pacific Northwest in 2020. Although they are similar in size, Cicada Killer wasps tend to have a reddish-brown body with yellow stripes. They thrive in the Sonoran Desert where cicadas are abundant annually unlike Murder Hornets who prefer the moist, lush forests. Cicada Killer wasps are not known to be aggressive toward humans, but their sting can be extremely painful.

If you have a wasp infestation or have questions about stinging insects around your home, call the experts at Bill’s Home Service. Our highly trained technicians are familiar with our desert wasps and the best way to protect your home. Call today at 520-200-7043.