Pest Problems

Queen wasp in the house: Identification and comparison

– It’s a bee!
– It’s a wasp!
– No, it’s a queen wasp in the house!

This post is for you if you:

  • noticed a black and yellow striped flying insect in or around your home;
  • are allergic to wasps stings and mustn’t go near them;
  • want to read more about queen wasps.

Table of Contents:

Do wasps have a queen?

Yes. Every nest has a queen wasp. To make a queen wasp, the nest needs fertilised eggs. They contain female wasps, a few of which are chosen by the current queen of the nest to be the next queen. Then, a process of care and training to become the next queens of the colony begins.

What does a queen wasp look like?

A queen wasp isn’t different from the workers in the nest. They are the same colour and for most species the same size. You won’t be able to recognise a queen wasp from a worker wasp. 

One of the few ways you can tell them apart is the time you see them flying around. As the queen wasps have to make the nest and lay the eggs, you will see it in early spring scavenging for food and building a nest. Also, if you see a solitary wasp flying around in late autumn, it can be a queen wasp before hibernation.

Queen wasp size

Depending on the species, a queen wasp can be either the same size or a little bit bigger than the worker wasps. The yellow jackets are species that have queens bigger than the workers, but among most species, they are almost 100% identical. A species of wasp in the UK that has no difference between the worker and the queen is the paper wasp.

With some species, the queens have more pointed lower abdomens and narrower waists than the workers. But to see these differences, you need to be at close proximity to the queen and a worker wasp. 

Queen wasp size comparison

As we said above, it is difficult to distinguish queen and a worker wasp from the same nest. 

However, there’s a confusion between a queen wasp and a hornet. Overall, a wasp and a hornet are two different species. 

Queen wasp or hornet

The main difference between a hornet and a queen wasp are their colours. The two hornet species in the UK are very distinctive from wasps. We have the European and the Asian hornet, here in the UK, none of which resembles wasps in colour.

The European hornet has a black and yellow abdomen, but the thorax and legs are either black or reddish-brown. A queen wasp is all black and yellow, no additional colours, regardless of the species. 

The Asian hornet is mostly dark in colour (usually black) with a few yellow stripes on the abdomen, and with yellow tips on the legs. There are no black wasps, respectively, there are no black queen wasps to confuse them with.

The confusion strains from the fact that most people think queen wasps are much bigger than other wasps. Thus when they see something big and yellow-ish, they think it’s a queen when in fact it’s a hornet. 

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Do queen wasps sting?

The queen wasp can sting you, just like a normal wasp would. The queen wasp sting wouldn’t feel much different than a normal wasp’s sting. They have the same venom. Additionally both – the queen and a worker wasp – can sting you multiple times. 

Do wasps hibernate in houses?

Queen wasps are the only ones that hibernate. All workers from the nest die off before winter comes. Since there’s no food easily available in winter – no flower, no pollen, no nectar, no fruit – the queen goes into hibernation mode. 

They do so in various places such as hollow trees, cracks and crevices in houses. Generally, they are looking for shelter in narrow places to protect themselves from the low temperatures in winter. Sadly, sometimes they are found by other predatory insects and are eaten by them. Such predators are spiders and other arachnids. 

So yes, there could be a wasp queen hibernating in your house. And yes, when spring comes and it emerges from its shelter, it’s possible that it can start building its nest near your home.

Queen wasp nest in the house

As soon as winter is over and the temperatures start to rise, the wasp emerges from its hiding place. It immediately goes out in search of an appropriate place for the nest, and then scavenge for building materials. 

After some of the nest is built, it lays eggs and starts scavenging for food. When the eggs hatch, the worker wasps emerge and start working for the greater good of the nest and the colony. A single nest can have thousands of wasps if it’s left unbothered for a long period of time. 

If the queen was hibernating near your home, it’s most likely it will deem your home suitable to make its nest. If you notice a single wasp flying around your home or towards the same spot of your home in early spring, you should check where it hides. 

A nest may be in the works and it’s better to remove it while its small and colony hasn’t formed yet. 

You may also like:
Insect Infestations
How to Get Rid of a Wasp Nest Without Getting Stung

Does killing a queen wasp get rid of the colony?

Not really. If the nest is built, and the colony exists, killing the queen wasp won’t help. They will simply select one of the queens in training, if any. Killing the queen must be done at the right time and prevent the building of the nest and forming of the colony. 

Hopefully, now you understand the differences between a queen wasp and a normal wasp, and hornets, and can identify it if you see it around your house. 

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Overall, if you notice a queen wasp, a colony of wasps, or hornets flying in and out of your house and there’s a nest on your property. Measures you need to take if there’s a wasp nest in your house:

  • Identify the nest and insect species so you’re certain they are wasps.
  • Be careful not to anger them because they will attack you.
  • If you’re allergic, afraid, or don’t want to deal with the nest, call your local Fantastic Services wasps exterminators to check up the nest.
  • Get the nest inspected, treated, and if possible, removed.
  • Enjoy your wasp- free home. 


Did you find our article on recognising queen wasps helpful? Why not share your thoughts or personal experience with us in the comments below?

Image source: Shutterstock / SKatzenberger

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