Anyone know of any good wasp field guides out there?


I’ve been looking for a decent guide (physical or digital, doesn’t matter) for wasps and have come up dry so far. The only guides I have are for general insects, and thus don’t go into enough depth to be useful. There are a small handful of books that pop up in searches, but there’s no inside preview so I can’t judge how useful they are. Any recommendations?

Aside from just personal interest, I’m also asking because I’ve noticed wasps are common, yet seem to be suffering from a lack of IDers when compared to other common orders of insects.


Do you have a particular location in mind?


United States/Eastern United States would be ideal if possible.


Sadly I can not think of anything, if you limit your searches here to the areas in question your results are likely to be as good as anything out there.


@jonathan142 has a guide to US Polistes species here.


@humanbyweight (aka Chris Kratzer) is publishing " **THE SOCIAL WASPS OF NORTH AMERICA a (field guide to all North American species of Vespinae & Polistinae). Hopefully in late 2021.

This should be a wonderful addition to the region’s entomological field guides!


This is from the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, and covers most of the species in the northerneastern part of the US. It generally requires a specimen in hand, unfortunately.


Thanks for the refs! Definitely an improvement over what I was using previously, at least.


@heatherholm is also working on a book.


Perhaps of less interest for most posters here, but the Korean Forestry Service has a pdf titled “산림 말벌 바로 알기 / Social Wasps of the Forest” that’s helpful for South Korean species.


Can confirm! Thanks for the mention :blush:

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Here’s some other items along the lines of the CJAI article:

The Vespinae of North America, J. of Hymenoptera Research, 2012,

Identification key to the subfamilies of Ichneumonidae, Gavin Broad, NHM, 2011,

Goulet and Huber, Hymenoptera of the World: An identification guide to families, Agriculture Canada, 1993,

None of these are field guides and they’re technical, but wasps are a difficult area and they may be useful in narrowing down the possibilities. BugGuide is a great place to browse if you get family / genus names and these pubs might help with that. They’re all free so it’s easy to have a look and see if they could be helpful. My go-to field guide for insects, is the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America by Eric Eaton and Kenn Kaufman. It covers all the groups, but it can get you started pretty quickly.


This will be a very welcome publication.

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