Wasps can frequently be seen buzzing around houses and backyard flower gardens. Perhaps you’ve wondered what they are looking for as they fly by. Food, perhaps? What do wasps eat? Do they need to drink water? How long can they go without food and water? Keep reading as we explore the answers to all of these questions!
What You'll Learn Today
What is a Wasp’s Favorite Food?
There are many different kinds of wasps, and as you might imagine, their diets vary somewhat from species to species. They also have different food preferences at different stages of life.
Strictly speaking, most wasps are opportunistic omnivores. This means they will eat a lot of different foods and aren’t very picky, though again, this can depend on the type of wasp and its stage in life.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common food preferences among most wasps.
- Sugary “human” foods: If you’re having a picnic, wasps may be attracted to the area by the scents of your jelly, lemonade or fruit juice, and desserts. Much like sugar ants, most wasps have a preference for sugary sweet foods and aren’t picky when it comes to this food group.
- Honey: Some types of wasps will invade honeybee hives to steal their honey. If you leave a honey jar sitting open outside, you’ll soon find that it has attracted a variety of potentially unwanted insects, including wasps.
- Fruit: Many wasps will eat fruit, particularly if it is overripe or spoiling. Some wasps will even become “intoxicated” from eating overripe fruit that has begun to ferment!
- Excretions from larvae: Wasps will frequently eat sugary excretions produced by their own larvae. The larvae produce these excretions as a by-product of their own diet, which is vastly different from that of the adult wasps, as we’ll see in a minute.
- Honeydew from sapsuckers: Aphids and other sap-sucking insects produce similar secretions as wasp larvae; these secretions are collectively known as honeydew. Wasps will suck this honeydew directly from the backsides of sap-sucking insects.
- Insects: Most adult wasps don’t eat insects; instead, they hunt them and feed them to their larvae. Wasp larvae feed almost entirely on a variety of insects, especially caterpillars, beetles, spiders, ants, crickets, and even cicadas.
- Carrion: Some adult wasps will also take bits of dead animals and insects back to their nest. Again, they don’t eat this themselves, but carrion can provide an extra boost of nutrition for their larvae.
- Meat and trash: Some wasps will collect bits of “human food” for their larvae, such as bits of meat, bread crust, vegetable pieces, and more. Some even make regular visits to dumpsters to see what they can find inside.
Do Wasps Drink Water?
Wasps can often be seen near drain pipes, hoses, ponds, birdbaths, and other water sources, appearing to drink large amounts of water. But are they really drinking it?
Most wasps do drink some water, but not usually as much as they collect. Instead, they use water for a variety of different things.
Many wasps mix water with dirt, wood pulp, or other materials to create the cells of their nest. They may feed small amounts to their young or drink it themselves, particularly if they are unable to get all they need from the food they eat.
Some wasps also use water to cool the inside of their nest on hot days. If they find a good water source, they will most likely return to it again and again.
Check out this video of a wasp collecting water as it drips from a drainpipe.
How Long Do Wasps Live Without Food and Water?
Wasps need to eat and drink frequently, and it usually doesn’t take too long for them to die if they are deprived of food and water. That said, the amount of time they can go without these necessities varies depending on a variety of factors.
Some species of wasp naturally have a longer lifespan than others. These wasps will generally last longer without food and water than those with shorter natural lifespans.
The wasp’s age, physical condition, and even its activity level may also play a role, as well as environmental factors such as temperature and weather conditions.
In general, wasps can only go a few days without eating or drinking. Some may survive as long as 5 to 10 days, while others, given the right conditions, may live for weeks or even months without food.
Though some wasps may be able to survive at the beginning of winter, they will quickly begin to die off if they cannot find enough food to sustain them. Some (such as queen wasps) hibernate through the winter to begin a new colony the following spring.
Adult wasps eat many different kinds of food, including sugary foods, spoiled fruit, honey, and even excretions produced by sap-sucking insects and their own larvae. Wasp larvae have a much different diet that mostly consists of insects but may also contain bits of meat, carrion, plant matter, trash, and human food.
Wasps are very important for our environment, so their survival is in the greater interest of humanity however you may not like them.