What Kind of Wasp Is In My Yard in Modesto, CA?

Wasps may seem like bullies and pests, but they serve an essential ecological purpose by preying on crop-eating insects. They are often confused for bees, which are fuzzy and pollinate flowers, whereas wasps are not fuzzy and have a narrow waist. Most wasps in California emerge in late summer when colonies come out to look for food. Are you struggling to identify the wasp nest on the side of your home or in your lawn? Follow this guide to wasps in California.

What are the most common wasps in Modesto, CA?


Like many types of wasps in California, yellowjackets get mistaken for bees because of their yellow-black coloring. However, they can mark their threats and pursue them even when unprovoked. They build nests of up to 3,000 workers between May and August, usually in hollow places, like trees, between walls, and in the ground. If you’re seeing a large group of tiny wasps coming in and out of a hole in the ground, you’ve probably found a yellowjacket nest. Yellowjackets can also nest within wall voids if there is an opening. This can cause a breakthrough in your living space, which is the worst-case scenario.

Paper Wasps

Unlike yellowjackets, paper wasps will only attack if they or their nests are under threat. That said, their stings can be painful and cause a severe allergic reaction in some people. They also have yellow and black coloring, but other varieties have a brighter orange, pink, and yellow coloring. They build their nests out of wood shavings that they scrape up off of available surfaces like wooden decks and patio furniture, wooden playsets, fascia boards, and other wooden fixtures around your property. Then, they mix these shavings with their saliva to create a honeycomb patterned nest. Their nests look like small upside down umbrellas and are made under patio umbrellas, up under the eaves of your home, under wooden outdoor furniture, and more.

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers, also called mud wasps, create unusual nests: by folding mud over using their mandibles. Sometimes these nests are shaped like pipes or simply mounds of mud or dirt. Like other wasps, they are predators, though they feed on small spiders, including brown and black widows. While not particularly aggressive, they will still sting if threatened. They have unusually narrow waists and are more darkly colored than other wasps. Mud daubers are solitary wasps, living alone with the exception of their larvae. Keep an eye out for their nests that look like mud tubes stacked up against each other. These nests are usually made on the side of homes or up in high places. If you find a mud dauber nest with visible holes, this can indicate that the larvae have hatched, and the nest has been abandoned.

Sand Wasps

The sand wasp is not as narrow-waisted as other wasps, has large light-green eyes, and is non-aggressive. Sand wasps are commonly mistaken for yellowjackets because they have similar stripes on their abdomen and nest in the ground as yellowjackets do. Unlike yellowjackets, sand wasps are mostly harmless. Some say that you can ever hold your hand out and have a sand wasp land on it without any stings. They usually live in or around beaches, where they dig their way underground into the sand. Early summer to the start of fall is their primary nesting time, and they’re usually solitary.

Thread-Waisted Wasps

Thread-waisted wasps have a thread-thin waist, with a red or orange band around their body. Otherwise, their bodies are long, sleek, and black. They immobilize their insect prey (typically caterpillars) with a sting and then use their powerful jaws to carry it to their nests within the ground. The adult thread-waisted wasp then lays eggs on the caterpillar. As the eggs hatch, they feed on the caterpillar. Because of their tendency to consume caterpillars, thread-waisted wasps are seen as beneficial to gardens. Unless stepped on or disturbed, they are not aggressive toward humans.

Are wasps dangerous?

In general, wasps of any kind become dangerous if they feel that they are in danger. Some such as yellowjackets are much more aggressive than mud daubers and sand wasps. Yellowjackets have the ability to sting multiple times and will do so in big swarms all at once. If you accidentally step on a yellowjacket nest when barefoot or in flip flops or run the nest over with a lawnmower by accident, you’re sure to be stung. Backyard gatherings can be ruined by wasps that fly around and hover over trash cans, soda cans, and food. The minute you swat at a wasp is the minute you will be stung. If you see wasps, leave them alone and call AAI right away. Although wasps can sting, the physical nests themselves per all of the wasps that we went over are not destructive. Wasps, in general, do not cause structural damage or destroy your property with the nests that they build.

How can I get rid of wasps on my own?

Never try to get rid of a wasp nest on your own! The risk of being stung is too significant to leave it up to chance. YouTube and DIY blogs are full of “natural” or “homemade” remedies for wasp activity, but there’s one thing to keep in mind. These tactics are not coming from licensed and experienced pest control professionals. As trained pest management professionals, we will never recommend that you put yourself in harm’s way. If you find a wasp nest on your property, call AAI Pest Control right away for fast and safe removal services.

How can AAI Pest Control get rid of the wasps on my property?

If you see any of these types of wasps, or find a wasp nest on your property, reach out to the experts at AAI Pest Control. Armed with a team of pest control specialists, there’s no wasp we won’t be able to face with confidence. Give us a call or fill out the contact form on this page for fast service!

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