ETYM Old Eng. waspe, AS. waeps, waefs; akin to Dutch wesp, German wespe, Old High Germ. wafsa, wefsa, Lith. vapsa gadfly, Russ. osa wasp, Latin vespa, and perhaps to Eng. weave.
Any of several families of winged stinging insects of the order Hymenoptera, characterized by a thin stalk between the thorax and the abdomen. Wasps can be social or solitary. Among social wasps, the queens devote themselves to egg laying, the fertilized eggs producing female workers; the males come from unfertilized eggs and have no sting. The larvae are fed on insects, but the mature wasps feed mainly on fruit and sugar. In winter, the fertilized queens hibernate, but the other wasps die.
Paper wasps, family Vespidae, include the common paper wasp Polistes annularis, hornets and yellow jackets (both genus Vespula). Potter wasps, mason wasps, and mud daubers all use mud with which to construct their nests.
Social or solitary hymenopterans typically having a slender body with the abdomen attached by a narrow stalk and having a formidable sting.