The black wasp may look intimidating, but this is a truly beneficial insect is worth learning about.
In today’s article, we are going to learn more about the black wasp, what to do if you encounter one, and how to get rid of the black wasp if you need to and keep it from returning to your property for good.
Let’s get started.
What Is A Black Wasp?
The black wasp is a large species of digger wasp native to North America.
Scientifically known as the Sphex Pensylvanicus, the black wasp is a species of digger wasp who builds its nest below ground.
As its name suggests, the black wasp is a large wasp native to North America and is common in roughly 2/3rds of the United States. Also known as the great black wasp, the Steel-Blue Cricket Hunter, and the Katydid Hunter, the black wasp is a highly beneficial pollinator and predator who is not known to be aggressive to people.
Only female black wasps can sting, and they only do so if they feel threatened or provoked, or if they feel their nest or offspring are in danger. They are solitary wasps and considered much less aggressive than many of their social wasp counterparts, as there is no need for them to protect a colony or queen.
Great black wasps are adaptive to different environments, making them prevalent in both the western and the eastern US. However, they are most active year-round in the western part of the United States, where the weather is consistently warmer.
Like most wasps and bees, the black wasp can live for up to a year, in which time it goes through four life stages including egg, larvae, pupa and adult. A female black wasp generally lays one egg at a time on the abdomen of an insect it previously paralized with its stinger and left in the nest.
Once hatched, the black wasp larvae will feed on that insect, (typically a grasshopper or a katydid) until it matures.
The below video goes into more detail about the interesting and beneficial qualities of a black wasp.
Once it leaves the nest, the mature black wasp feeds on pollen and nectar from surrounding flowers. This is especially true for the female black wasp, who requires lots of sugary nutrients to provide her with the energy she needs to mate and catch the prey she will need to care for her young.
How To Identify A Black Wasp
Black wasps can often be observed carrying prey to their young, like this female black wasp holding a katydid.
Black wasps are large, growing between 1 and 1 ½ inches in length. Female black wasps are usually slightly larger than males. Despite their massive size and sinister appearance, it’s important to remember that black wasps are highly beneficial and very unlikely to sting unless they are provoked.
Often, one of the most common signs of a black wasp on your property is physically seeing one. These insects are hard to miss with their large size and shiny, black bodies. They have dark grey or blue colored wings and three sectioned body parts with a distinct head, waist and abdomen.
It’s common to find black wasps enjoying nectar from flowers or sometimes even flying by carrying large grasshoppers or katydids to their nests.
A black wasp nest is also a sign of black wasp activity on your property, though these holes are small and often solitary in their location. They can look like tiny hills of dirt with holes no bigger than the size of a quarter.
As a species of digger wasp, the black wasp may also be observed flying low to the ground and her nest can often be found by watching where she continuously lands or where she brings insects.
While most people will only encounter a few black wasps at a time, if your yard is highly attractive to these large insects, you may unknowingly be offering a standing invitation for more to come. This is why it’s just as important to know what black wasps are attracted to as it is to know how to get rid of them.
What Has Attracted A Black Wasp To Your Yard?
Black wasps are attracted to blooming flowers and insects like grasshoppers and katydids.
Like most insects, black wasps are attracted to areas that provide them with shelter, food and a good place to mate and lay eggs.
For most black wasps, soil that is dry, soft, and easy to dig into will make wonderful nests, so people often report finding black wasps on the outskirts of gardens, in fields, or in dry patches of the lawn where the grass has died and soil is visible.
But before a black wasp chooses where to make her nest, she’ll first want to ensure there is plenty around to eat. The primary food source for the adult black wasp is going to be flowers.
Black wasps prefer colorful, blooming flowers, which is unfortunate for gardeners who also enjoy these lovely blossoms. However, flowers are not the end-all. For female black wasps in particular, they will also be on the hunt for areas with lots of grasshoppers or katydids to feed their offspring.
Luckily, black wasps do not build their nests indoors, so having a black wasp nest inside your home is not going to be a problem. Of course, if a black wasp has made her nest near your home, she could accidentally find her way inside through an open window or door.
If you do encounter a black wasp inside, try gently trapping it beneath a cup and releasing her back into your yard. Remember, while initially frightening, black wasps are beneficial pollinators and hunters with plenty of predators to boot. One or two of them can even help your garden flourish!
However, if you are concerned about black wasps in your yard, don’t worry. We are still going to talk about how to get rid of them safely and effectively.
How To Get Rid Of A Black Wasp – Most Popular Methods
You can get rid of black wasps using a number of different methods.
Because they are not social insects, the chances of you encountering a black wasp infestation are relatively small. Still, black wasps can be unnerving due to their massive size and quick, sporadic movements. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon to find clusters of black wasps together in areas rich in their desired food sources.
And while we do want to reiterate that black wasps are beneficial insects with a lot going for them, they can still sting if provoked and that sting is painful.
The good news is that there are plenty of methods you can use for how to get rid of a black wasp on your property. Take a look.
- Natural Repellents
- Home Remedies
Not sure where to begin or which method would be right for you? Don’t worry, we have you covered with some of our favorite products and home remedies for how to get rid of the black wasp and keep it from returning below.
How To Get Rid Of A Black Wasp Using Natural Repellents
Natural wasp sprays and traps help to protect your property from black wasps without the use of chemicals.
Because the black wasp is a solitary insect that is not generally dangerous and that does not cause property damage, many people opt to use natural methods to repel or get rid of it. Natural methods can include the use of natural sprays, ultrasonic sound machines, granules, traps and even dust.
We have listed some of our favorite natural products you can use for how to get rid of a black wasp problem below.
Raid Wasp Trap
While Raid is a popular brand known for making insecticides, the above black wasp trap is chemical free and safe to use in areas where people and pets frequent. Of course, the trap includes a lure ingredient, so it would be wise to place this trap away from where you and your loved ones will be hanging out.
The trap can be ordered in quantities of one, two and three depending on your needs and is designed to trap and kill problematic yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets.
Mighty Mint Insect Spray
Mighty Mint insect spray is made from peppermint oil and other natural ingredients and works to kill and repel a number of pests like spiders, wasps, flies, ants and more.
It is safe to use both inside and outside of the home and safe to use in areas where children and pets play. The spray is non-toxic and completely chemical free, and can be sprayed directly on black wasp holes and in gardens to repel the insects and keep them from returning.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Spray
Using a year-round pest control spray can help not only keep black wasps away, but the insects they prey on. The above spray is an all around perimeter spray that is made with natural ingredients safe for people, pets and the environment.
It can be used directly on garden plants and reaches up to 5,000 square feet. It uses a combination of essential oils and other natural ingredients to kill and repel black wasps, mosquitos, ticks, fleas, ants and more.
HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
Also known as DE, Diatomaceous Earth is an organic dust that kills insects like wasps, roaches, bed bugs, ticks and ants. It is made of fossilized algae and works by penetrating the exoskeleton, which kills the insect without the use of poisons or chemicals.
As such, this product is completely safe for people, pets and the environment, and can be used directly on lawns and gardens. However, it does not work as effectively once it gets wet, so it will need to be reapplied after a rainstorm or after you water your lawn or garden.
EcoSmart Organic Wasp Killer
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Another kid and pet friendly option for controlling a black wasp problem is an organic spray by EcoSmart. This spray works against hornets and wasps, but also kills other flying insects like annoying flies, mosquitoes, gnats and fleas.
It uses all natural ingredients that are safe for people and pets, and is harmless to the environment as well. That said, the product does note that it’s best to avoid spraying this natural insecticide directly on garden plants and to rinse off any foliage directly contacted by the spray.
Ultrasonic Pest Repeller Plug In
If you don’t mind a black wasp or two outside but are worried about them getting into your home, you can always invest in an ultrasonic pest repellent plug in like the one listed above. These plug-ins emit ultrasonic sound waves and vibrations that are irritating to insects and keep them from coming indoors. The sound waves are harmless to people and pets, but will annoy different types of wasps, flies, roaches, spiders, rodents, and even bed bugs.
Best Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of A Black Wasp
Home remedies like the use of essential oils are often an easy and inexpensive way of controlling a black wasp problem.
Using natural methods is effective when it comes to getting rid of a black wasp in your yard, but sometimes organic and natural products can be pricey. Another option you have for how to get rid of a black wasp is to use home remedies.
Essential Oils To Repel Black Wasps
Peppermint seems to be the winning essential oil when it comes to pest repellent, and it also works on ants, bed bugs, spiders and roaches. However, the other essential oils on the below list have also been found to work, so don’t worry if you don’t have peppermint oil on hand.
- Peppermint Oil
- Lemon Oil
- Clove Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Geranium Oil
Essential Oil Black Wasp Repellent Spray
- 1 spray bottle
- 2 cups of water
- 10 – 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice
Pour 2 cups of water into a spray bottle and then add 10 to 20 drops of the essential oil or a combination of the essential oils of your choice from our list above. Shake the bottle to ensure the water and oil is mixed, then spray the oil around your garden and property every couple of days.
Essential Oil Black Wasp Repellent Cotton Balls or Rags
- Several cotton balls
- 1 small cup or bowl
- The essential oils of your choice
Pour the essential oil of your choice into a bowl and soak as many cotton balls as you need. You may dilute the oil if needed with water to make it go farther. Then place these saturated cotton balls around your yard and garden, and near windows and doors. The scent will repel black wasps and other pests like spiders, bed bugs, roaches, and ants.
Repeat this process every three days.
Dish Soap And Water Black Wasp Repellent Spray
This is a lethal method for getting rid of a black wasp problem and is best used as a source of protection if you’re especially concerned about getting stung.
Simply combine 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and drop in several drops of liquid dish soap. Shake the bottle until the water is frothy, and keep the bottle on hand when outside and gardening. The soapy water will coat the wasp and make it impossible to fly or breathe, stopping it in its tracks.
How To Get Rid Of A Black Wasp With Insecticides
Keep in mind that, while effective, insecticides use harsh chemicals that can be dangerous.
Insecticides do have their pros and cons, but when used properly and in conjunction with other pest control methods they can be an effective tool for not only getting rid of a black wasp problem but also preventing one in the future.
That said, always be mindful of the insecticides you are using and use them only as directed. Remember, insecticides do contain harsh chemical ingredients that can be toxic to people, pets and the environment and should always be used responsibly.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best insecticides you can use for how to get rid of a black wasp problem.
Ortho Home Defense Hornet and Wasp Killer
Ortho is a popular insecticide brand that many people trust, which is why we have listed it here. This particular spray is a wasp spray that is designed to target and kill wasps from up to 20 feet away. The spray can also be used on hornets and other flying pests.
It can help keep digger wasps like black wasps from entering homes and can create a barrier around your porch, patio, and even the inside of your home when used around doors and windows.
Ortho Home Defence Lawn and Landscaping Spray
Because the black wasp is a species of digger wasp, it spends quite a bit of time below ground. This is why it’s important to choose an insecticide that targets the ground and landscaping when dealing with these insects.
The above insecticide by Ortho is a landscaping and lawn insecticide spray that covers over 5,300 square feet and helps target not only digger wasps but other pests like fleas, spiders, mosquitoes and even ticks.
Of course, keep in mind this spray is chemical based and can be toxic for people, pets and the environment. Use it only as directed and keep it out of reach of children.
Spectracide Foaming Spray
The above foaming spray by Spectracide is designed to specifically target ground dwelling insects like ground bees and carpenter bees, but it can also work to kill and repel a black wasp problem as well.
To use it effectively, it’s best to ensure you spray it while the black wasp is in the nest. The spray kills on contact and will also kill any young in the nest as well.
Last, we have Delta Dust. This is a dust insecticide that is ideal for ground-dwelling pests and thus works for killing and repelling the black wasp. It kills on contact and should be applied directly to the black wasp’s nest.
The applicator makes for easy pouring and allows you to quickly pour the dust directly into the hole. It kills on contact and also kills any eggs or larvae in the nest as well. Delta Dust is also effective on scorpions, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, ground beetles, termites, silverfish, roaches, and more.
How To Get Rid Of A Black Wasp – When To Call A Professional
If you or a loved one is allergic to a black wasp, it may be best to contact a professional pest control expert for help.
While black wasps are not aggressive and do not cause property damage, they can be concerning to those with children or pets, and especially to those who have allergies to bee or wasp stings.
For anyone allergic to a bee or wasp sting, we suggest contacting a professional pest control expert for help on getting rid of your black wasp problem. Pest control experts generally cost around $100 to $500 depending on your region and the severity of your black wasp problem.
They should also be able to give you pointers and tips on how to repel a future black wasp problem on your property. Of course, we have some tips for you as well on how to prevent black wasps, so take a look below.
How To Prevent Future A Black Wasp In Your Home
Praying mantis bugs are natural predators of the black wasp.
Prevention is a great way to help keep black wasps off of your property so both you and that wasp can live your lives happily and apart from one another.
Let’s go over a few of the best preventative measures you can use to keep black wasps at bay.
Plant Wasp-Repellent Plants
If you love gardening but don’t love black wasps, you’re in luck. You can use companion planting in your garden to help repel not only black wasps, but also other types of wasps and pests. Some of the best plants to use to repel a black wasp include:
- And Marigolds
Keep Your Lawn Healthy and Lush, And Keep On Top Of Mowing
Like other digger wasps, the black wasp needs soft, dry soil in order to build their nests. You can help keep wasps from choosing your yard or property line for their nesting zone by keeping your lawn healthy and lush.
Water it routinely and keep up with landscaping. Fill in dry, dead patches and use fertilizer or new grass seed when necessary. You can also keep your grass shorter to help repel other pests that the black wasp might be attracted to like grasshoppers and katydids.
Invite the Predators
One of the reasons the black wasp is so beneficial is because it has so many beneficial predators. You can help repel and control black wasps and the prey these wasps are after by inviting the predators to your yard. These predators include:
- Large Garden Spiders
- Praying Mantis
- Robber Flies
- Hover flies
- And Nighthawks
Keep Doors and Windows Closed During Warmer Months
While black wasps are not known to make nests indoors, one can get into your home accidently through an open door or window. To keep this from happening, keep windows and doors closed during the summer and spring, (or year-round in warmer regions). It is also a good idea to ensure screens are properly fitted and gaps in doorways are sealed and secure.
Use Routine Pest Control To Manage Prey Insects
Remember, the black wasp is a predatory insect and hunts for bugs like grasshoppers and katydids. Using a routine pest control regime year-round will help not only reduce your encounters with these insects, but also other pests. This, in turn, reduces your chances of encountering a black wasp.
Routinely Cover Holes You Find In The Ground
Last but not least, routinely cover any holes you find in or around your property. Oftentimes, digger wasps like the black wasp will reuse old rodent holes or snake holes to build their nests, so make sure not to leave any potential black wasp “condos” in the open, waiting for a new tenant.
And that’s it when it comes to black wasp control!
So, what do you think about the great black wasp? Would you keep this beneficial insect around and let it do its thing in your garden, or would you prefer it live it’s best wasp life elsewhere?
Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.