Skip to Content

Will wasp wake up at night?

Wasps are generally day-flying insects that are most active during daylight hours. However, some species of wasps have been observed to exhibit nocturnal behavior and activity at night under certain conditions. In this article, we will explore the answer to the question “Will wasps wake up at night?” by looking at wasp biology, daily rhythms, reasons for night activity, and specific examples of nocturnally active wasp species.

Wasp Biology and Daily Rhythms

Wasps, like many other animals including humans, have internal circadian rhythms that regulate periods of rest and activity within a 24 hour cycle. They have natural patterns of increased activity during the day and rest at night. However, these daily rhythms can be influenced by external factors.

Most species of wasp have compound eyes designed for daytime vision. They use visual cues to locate food sources, orient themselves, and navigate back to their nests. This reliance on vision is one reason why most wasps limit their activity to daylight hours.

Within a colony, worker wasps take on different tasks depending on the time of day. During daylight hours, workers are busy foraging for food, collecting water, building and maintaining the nest, and guarding the entrance. At night, the colony becomes much less active as worker wasps rest inside closed cells. The queen also becomes less active at night.

Reasons Wasps May Wake Up at Night

While wasps are predominantly day-flying insects, there are some circumstances that can cause them to become active at night as well:

Disturbances to the nest – If a nest is disturbed at night by predators, animals getting too close, or even strong winds shaking the nest location, some guard wasps may wake up and fly around to inspect and defend the area.

Foraging for food – If a wasp colony is struggling to find adequate food sources during the day, workers may expand their foraging to night time hours. Street lights and other artificial light sources allow them to see at night.

Attracted to lights – Some wasps seem to exhibit positive phototaxis, meaning they are attracted to lights. They may fly near street lights, porch lights, or bug zappers at night.

Nocturnal mating – In some species, mating occurs at night when the wasps are less active. This has been observed in paper wasps.

Emergence of new reproductives – When new reproductives emerge in a colony, some activity may occur at night as they orient themselves and prepare to leave the nest.

Overcrowding – In large, crowded colonies, increased activity at warmer temperatures may make it difficult for all the wasps to settle down at night, causing more buzzing activity.

Examples of Nocturnal Wasp Species

While most wasps primarily fly during the day, there are some specific species that have adapted to become active nocturnal hunters and foragers:

Night-flying wasps

– The genus Apoica includes some tropical paper wasp species that are known to fly at night. They have enlarged ocelli (simple eyes) that aid their vision in low light.

Apoica pallens is a paper wasp found in Central and South America. Forages at night, especially around street lights.

Apoica gelida is another nocturnal paper wasp species found in the rainforests of Costa Rica.

Cicada killer wasps

– The cicada killer wasp Sphecius speciosus has been observed to mate and forage for cicadas at night in some populations. The females seem to be more active after dusk.

– Research suggests that night activity allows them to avoid high daytime temperatures. Cooler nights enable them to forage when other wasp species have settled down.

Scoliid wasps

Campsomeris prismatica is a scoliid wasp species found in southwestern states like Arizona. It is known to be nocturnal and is attracted to light traps at night.

Scolia nobilitata is a large scoliid wasp found in the southeastern U.S. Females hunt for scarab beetle grubs deep underground during the day but mate at night.

Spider hunting wasps

Tachypompilus ferrugineus is a spider hunting wasp that flies low over the ground at dusk and night to search for prey. It uses fuzzy antennae to guide it in the dark.

Anoplius americanus is another night-flying spider wasp that uses echolocation by wing buzzing to find spider nests while flying low over the ground in darkness.


Most wasp species are active during the daytime and rest at night. Their biology and navigation abilities are adapted for daytime flight. However, some wasp species exhibit nocturnal behaviors for purposes like foraging, mating, nest maintenance, and dealing with overcrowding. Specific genera of wasps like Apoica, cicada killers, scoliids, and spider hunters contain species known to fly and hunt at night. So while not common, wasps can sometimes wake up and be active at night depending on the species and circumstances. Careful observation of local wasp behavior and patterns is necessary to determine if they are waking up and flying at night in a specific location.


Reference Link
Circadian Rhythms in Insects
Nocturnal Behavior in Wasps
Vision and Navigation in Nocturnal Insects
Navigation at Night in Wasps
Nocturnal Behavior in Cicada Killer Wasps

Related Questions

Why are wasps attracted to lights at night?

Wasps seem to exhibit positive phototaxis, meaning they instinctively move towards light. At night, they may be drawn to artificial lights around homes or businesses or even bug zappers. Scientists think navigating towards brightness helps lead nocturnal insects towards openings and pathways when flying in darkness. The light provides a guidepost. However, this attraction can also lead wasps towards unwanted areas at night.

What are some ways to discourage night activity of wasps?

Here are some tips to reduce wasp night activity around your home:

– Remove food and water sources they may be attracted to at night like fallen fruit, dripping faucets, etc.

– Use insecticidal dust treatments in wall voids or nest entrances to discourage exiting at night.

– Install motion sensor lights rather than fixed glowing lights to avoid attracting them all night long.

– Seal any holes or entry points so they can’t access your home’s interior at night.

– Treat nests with insecticides or remove them to eliminate nocturnal activity from that colony.

– Use red lights instead of white/yellow lights for outdoor areas since wasps can’t see red spectrum light.

How do you get rid of wasps at night?

Treating wasp nests is best done during daytime hours when most wasps are out foraging. But if you need to remove nests or treat night activity, these nighttime methods can work:

– Carefully inject insecticide dusts or sprays into nest entrances after dark when wasps are less active. Wear protective clothing to avoid stings.

– Apply a liquid or aerosol residual insecticide spray to surfaces around entry points at night to kill wasps entering or exiting after dark.

– Vacuum up night-flying wasps around lights with a bug vac or fly swatter.

– Prune or destroy nests after dark using long tools to avoid disturbing resting wasps. Remove or seal nests to prevent recolonization.

– Use red lights, blacklights, or no lights when doing night treatments to avoid stimulating activity. Work quickly and efficiently.

– Hang pheromone or light traps to passively lure and trap wasps at night without agitating rest of colony.

Additional Information

Common types of wasps known to exhibit night activity

– Paper wasps – Apoica species found in the Americas

– Yellowjackets – Some common yellowjacket species like Vespula germanica

– Hornets – Giant hornets active in Japan and China

– Cicada killer wasps – Sphecius species

– Scoliid wasps – Campsomeris, Scolia species

– Spider wasps – Tachypompilus, Anoplius, and others

– Digger wasps – Species in genera like Sphex and Prionyx

Benefits of wasps being active at night

Some possible benefits of night-flying wasps include:

– Avoid daytime heat stress in hot climates

– Take advantage of cooler, more humid conditions for activities

– Find nocturnal spider and insect prey species other wasps miss

– Less competition from other day-flying wasp species

– Protection from some bird predators that are sleeping

– Expanded foraging times to bring more food back to nests

– Avoid visual predators that rely on eyesight to hunt

Dangers posed by wasps active at night

Potential issues with wasps waking up and flying at night:

– Stinging risks to people if they disturb active nests in the dark

– Becoming attracted to home lights and finding ways to get indoors

– Increased night activity indicating large, stressed colonies needing removal

– Short tempers and aggressive defending if nests are disturbed at night

– Difficulty in spraying or treating nests at night safely

– Harder to find and track nest locations to remove them

– Could spread bacteria on food sources like ripe fruits visited at night

– Increased chances of bothering nocturnal pets or animals