Wasp is an insect that is neither a bee nor an ant. Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their numbers. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they prey mostly on pest insects that impact crops.
The various species of wasps fall into one of two categories: solitary wasps and social wasps. Adult solitary wasps live and operate alone, and most do not construct nests. All adult solitary wasps are fertile. By contrast, social wasps exist in colonies numbering up to several thousand individuals and build nestsóbut in some cases not all of the colony can reproduce. In some species, just the wasp queen and male wasps can mate, while the majority of the colony is made up of sterile female workers.
Wasps store sperm inside their body and control its release for each individual egg as it is laid. If a female wishes to produce a male egg, she simply lays the egg without fertilizing it. Therefore under most conditions, wasps have complete voluntary control over the sex of their offspring.
Generally wasps are parasites or parasitoids as larvae, and feed only on nectar as adults. Many wasps are predatory, using other insects as food for their larvae. A few social wasps are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of fruit, nectar, and meat. Some of these social wasps, such as yellowjackets, may scavenge for dead insects to provide for their young. In many social species the larvae provide sweet secretions that are fed to the adults.
Adult male wasps sometimes visit flowers to obtain nectar to feed on in much the same manner as honey bees. Occasionally, some species, such as yellowjackets and, especially, hornets, invade honey bee nests and steal honey and their eggs.