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Wasp keeping observations. Anyone else keep wasps?

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by WriggleNightbug, Aug 12, 2019 at 11:44 PM.

  1. WriggleNightbug

    WriggleNightbug Arachnopeon

    Hi everyone, I'm new here and I want to talk about wasp keeping. I've been keeping wasps for quite awhile now and have been keeping them in an outdoors set up and am on my second nest (first nest sadly all died out eventually[more on this below]).

    I have a see-through birdfeeder on my porch and one day there were wasps in it. Unlike any reasonable person I just let them live there and make their nest. The wasps were incredibly docile, they never once tried to attack or anything. The wasps were almost always present on the porch when I or my family was out there during the day. We had some cardboard and a wicker basket that they were using for nesting materials. They would fly back and forth from the nest to the materials. You could watch them chew on the stuff outside. They would even chew stuff like metal which was pretty cute and silly. They also quite enjoyed the food set out for hummingbirds and would lick up the drops the birds left behind. The wasps were so docile I would sit next to the nest and watch them build it. They would flap their wings crazy fast when on the nest. At night you could watch them all huddled together asleep. I never noticed a single queen or baby and they eventually all died out. I believe right before the colony died the last few wasps took off for greener pastures (or a mass suicide, mating, who knows).

    I was really disheartened when the wasps were gone but fast-forward, new wasps! A new group of wasps took hold in the same bird feeder. Oddly enough they have started an entire new nest above the old nest, it would be easier for them to just build off the abandoned one but I guess they only want new. These new wasps are also quite docile despite not being around the porch as much. We no longer have as much materials out and the hummingbird food isn't as frequent, but they still let me stay on the porch with them when they're present.

    Wasps are quite silly little things, they buzz around the porch chewing random things and like to ride the wind currents around the roof. I've seen them make use of the wind currents to quickly ascend high up in the sky past the trees. These new wasps are especially fond of part of the roof but I haven't been able to see what they're doing exactly. Maybe they got into the house and are ripping bits of wood out or something. Its quite nice having a friendly relationship with the wasps though. Just today I was outside and someone had discarded an apple onto the ground. I somehow didn't notice it until I was right up on it and wasps started swarming everywhere. They were my wasps, knew I wasn't a threat, then carried on about their business. When I got into the house I checked the nest and sure enough, all of them were gone to feast on the apple.

    Again though, I haven't noticed any queen or babies so this nest will likely face the same fate as the previous, I hope they can survive the upcoming winter. I have seen two completely unrelated queen wasps, I'm honestly surprised my wasps haven't tried to fight them over territory, perhaps I raised them too nicely? One queen looked an awful lot like my wasps but bigger. This one constantly tried to enter the house through the backdoor, I love wasps but I don't want an alien one in my house laying eggs! There has also been another queen of a different species appearing on the other side of the house trying to enter ventilation vents. I dubbed this one as "Omega Wasp" as its absolutely enormous, its quite dark in color as well. I haven't seen this one in months though, perhaps it found a better nesting spot.

    Does anyone else keep wasps? I would love to hear about more observations in wasp keeping, they're very underrated and misunderstood pets.

    Also, wasp-keeping, and all other stinging buggies, are all highly dangerous to keep. Please be careful and know you're doing your actions on your own, I'm not liable if you get hurt.
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  2. chanda

    chanda Arachnoprince Active Member

    Wasps are great! I have never raised wasps or kept a nest of them, but I have occasionally kept Mutillidae (velvet ants) as pets. I also try to capture a single tarantula hawk and bring it in to show my students every summer, but I usually release it again after a week or two. I did have one tarantula hawk that had badly damaged wings when I found her, so I kept her for the remainder of her life - which was a few months. Here she is eating out of my hand:
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  3. WriggleNightbug

    WriggleNightbug Arachnopeon

    I'm fairly new to exotic insects so haven't heard of the velvet ants before. Looked them up, wingless wasps sound pretty cool and more manageable for an indoor setup. Do you have to worry about nuptial flights though? I imagine that could be an issue when trying to feed them during that time.

    The tarantula hawk is great, really nice she was docile enough to sit in your hand. The story of its injured wings reminds me of when my brother once kept an inured moth for awhile. I keep wasps but am oddly enough afraid of moths, thankfully it healed up and was able to fly off after a few days.
  4. chanda

    chanda Arachnoprince Active Member

    Velvet ants don't have a nuptial flight - and would be virtually impossible to breed and raise in captivity. The tricky bit is that they are obligate parasitoids on ground-nesting bees or wasps. The female velvet ant enters the nests of the bees or wasps to lay her eggs, then her larvae hatch out and feed on the bee/wasp larvae. Unless you have a nest of an appropriate host species for whatever species of velvet ant you are attempting to raise, they will not be able to reproduce.

    As far as keeping them is concerned, only the males have wings. The females are wingless for their entire lives, so escapees during feeding time are not really an issue as long as you don't leave the lid off and the enclosure unattended. They do climb quite well and could easily climb out of an unlidded enclosure. As for feeding, when I've had them, I give them sliced grapes and oranges which I change out every couple of days as they dry out or get moldy. Because males have wings, they are a bit harder to keep - but not unmanageable. I've had them short-term before, but my experience has been that they do not live long in captivity, so after a few failed attempts, I just bring them in to show my students - then let them go again. The females, on the other hand, do pretty well in captivity. I've kept them for months at a time - sometimes even close to a year.

    The nice thing about both the velvet ants and the tarantula hawks is that they are solitary wasps. Because they have no hive or colony to defend, they are not aggressive and only sting in self-defense if provoked. (Of course, that's not to say that they won't sting, and if they are agitated - which tarantula hawks frequently are immediately after being captured - you'd be well advised to keep your distance until they calm down. They give off a weird burnt rubber smell and buzz their wings very aggressively when they are upset, so it's pretty easy to recognize.)
  5. BepopCola

    BepopCola Arachnosquire Active Member

    Wasps are my favorite insect! I'd love to keep some someday. I'd need to lock down the logisitcs of keeping a flying insect though.
    We have tons of tarantula hawks around here. It gets scary when they fly inside and get stuck somewhere and annoyed. They're supposed to have a pretty painful sting. I've been looking for velvet ants for a while now as well, they've been around in the past, but are MIA this year.
  6. BenLeeKing

    BenLeeKing Arachnosquire Active Member

    Would like to keep emerald cockroach wasps. All I need is a roach culture which I have and now the big problem is getting the wasps.
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  7. Seems like cockroach wasps would be the easiest to breed in captivity. I’ve also looked at possibly keeping Scoliidae and breeding them on beetle larvae