Can Wasps Be Pets?

If you love insects you may have wondered if it’s possible to keep wasps.

Some people have successfully established red paper wasp colonies in aquariums. Expert knowledge is needed, however, in order to establish and safely maintain a colony of wasps in a controlled setting.

Before establishing your own pet colony of wasps make sure you know what are you are doing, but some people have successfully done so.

Wasp behind glass
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How big a container would I need to keep a wasp colony?

It has been recommended at the living with insect blog that a 5-gallon aquarium would be large enough to keep a colony of red paper wasps. See this article about red paper wasps. In order, to establish a colony, you would need to start with a queen wasp.

Paper wasps true to their name build a nest out of paper by scraping at small chunks from wood and turning them into a pulp. See this article. If a wood source is provided in the aquarium then the queen will be able to build a nest.

In addition they need a source of food for their developing larvae. Caterpillars are a preferred food source. They will also need sugary water.

Once the larvae develop the wasp colony will begin to develop in size. The wasp colony should be started in early spring, but the life cycle of wasps mean that the majority of the wasps will die by the early onset of winter.

Is it safe to keep wasps in an aquarium?

Wasps can be highly aggressive in order to protect their nests so extreme caution is needed. Cooling the nest is one method of taming the wasps. The red paper wasp is less aggressive than other species such as the yellowjacket.

Studies have shown that wasps will remember and learn from past experiences and they may over time learn not to associate you as a threat to the colony. Check out this article. As with all wild animals, there are absolutely no guarantees, however.

If the wasps do sting then their sting has been recognized as very painful to humans. The red paper wasp has been placed at 3 in the Schmidt pain index. This is one of the highest among all wasp species. See this article about the most painful wasp stings.

Is keeping wasps as pets good for the wasps?

There is no doubt that in the wild wasps will roam over large areas in order to forage for food and to hunt. Their primary concern, however, is in maintaining their nest and providing food and security for the developing larvae in the nest.

So, if all these needs are met then in theory at least the wasps should be fairly content.

Will wasps fight each other in a confined space?

Wasps will fight each other, but not necessarily just because it’s a confined space. Male red paper wasps will fight with each other to the death for the right to mate with the queen. So expect some of your pet colony to attack and kill each other. This should be limited to the males, however, which are relatively few in number.

Where to get more information?

There are a few YouTube channels showing how to go about keeping wasps.

This channel shows the feeding of a pet red paper wasp.

This channel shows the keeping of wasps as pets.

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