Wasp Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Wasps are a kind of flying insect that you may be familiar with. This lesson will teach you about wasps, where they live, what they like to eat, which ones can and can't sting and some other cool facts.

What is a Wasp?

Imagine playing on a hot summer day. Suddenly, something big and scary sounding starts buzzing around. And then you see it. It has bright colors, fast wings and it's heading straight for you! You don't want to get stung, so you run! It's a wasp!

A wasp is a winged insect that is related to bees and ants and has a slim body.

Because a wasp is an insect, it has six legs and three body parts called the head, thorax and abdomen.

There are several thousand kinds of wasps on Earth, and they come in many colors including yellow, blue, brown and red.

You probably run whenever you see a wasp because you don't want to be stung. However, some kinds of wasps can sting and others can't. If wasps are brilliantly colored, they can probably sting, since those colors are like a sign that says, 'Stay Away'!

If it is a kind of wasp that can sting, watch out for the females. They are the only ones that can deliver a nasty, painful surprise because they are the only ones with venom. Males don't have venom, though some do have body parts that look like stingers and can poke you.

But remember, it's hard to tell the difference because the males and females often look alike, so it's best to leave all of them alone!

Is it a Bee or a Wasp?

Although bees and wasps are related, it's easy to tell them apart. Wasps have a skinny middle section that connects the thorax, where the wings are connected, and abdomen, where the stinger is located, if it has one.

Wasp with Skinny Middle Section
Wasp with Skinny Middle Section

Wasps can also sting their enemy over and over. Bees can only sting once, and then they die.

Nature's Exterminator

Although wasps may not be your favorite insect, they have a very important job. Wasps go after insects we think of as pests, which helps keep their numbers low and less of a problem for people.

Some wasps eat insects, and others lay their eggs in them so their babies have food when they hatch, and eat their way out.

There is also a wasp, called a tarantula hawk wasp, which looks specifically for tarantulas so it can paralyze it with a sting and lay an egg on it. The baby wasp that hatches will eat the paralyzed spider that is still alive!

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