Hidden wasp wings?

I have, on several occasions, seen wasps sleeping. Several have appeared to have no wings. In daylight I could see no evidence of wingless wasps.
Do they hide their wings somehow?

There are many species of wingless wasps. Do you know roughly what kind of wasp you saw?

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Winged wasps have no way to hide their wings, but wingless wasps do exist, and winged wasps can get injured and lose their wings

Do you know what kind of wasps these were?

European paper wasps and a couple of native paper wasps.
it’s been one or two in a nest.
The yellowjacket I found seems to do the same thing. I will try to get a picture, but it will be difficult because she got too warm and woke up.
I wonder if they tuck their wings under their legs when it gets cold?
Maybe I just can’t see all that well?

All yellow jackets and paper wasps have wings unless they are injured in some way, and do not tuck their wings under their legs in the cold (they may briefly while cleaning themselves)

I can see what’s going on now. sorry for the low quality image, I don’t want to disturb.


she sleeps like that. The wings are sort of tucked under and hard to see in low light. I assume that some others do the same. I don’t have the best night vision either.

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I think I see a wing in image 2, the poor contrast and wet glass just make it hard to see

And if you are looking for a species ID this is a Western Yellowjacket

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Wasps without wings? - I don’t know anything about wasps without wings and am very surprised right know, that they exist…

  • But shouldn’t they be something else? - Isn’t a “rule”, for being a wasp to have wings?
    I am confused.
    Sorry, for this stupid question…
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“Wasp” is a very broad term that refers to anything in suborder Apocrita except for the superfamily Formicoidea (ants) and the epifamily Anthophila (bees)

Many of what we think of as wasps, including all the common species that live in colonies, are in superfamily Vespoidea, and these all have wings, but there are other wasps where the females don’t have wings, for example the velvet ants https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/48511-Mutillidae, which are not actually ants

Also, any species can be found without wings as a result of injury

There are also some wasps that have an abdominal shape that enables them to rest with their wings under their abdomen at times, like the genus Mischocyttarus

This is not at all a stupid question


It’s rather like how there are birds that have lost the ability to fly – if flight isn’t a key element for an organism to carry out its life cycle, the energy investment of growing and using wings may not offer an evolutionary advantage over not developing them in the first place.

There’s a reason why the English name for “Pterygota” on iNat is “winged and once winged insects”. Insects only develop wings in their very last developmental stage and there are quite a few species across many insect orders where at least some portion of the adults no longer have wings or only have vestigal wings. There are even flies that can’t fly, contradictory as that sounds.

Ants (which are hymenopterans, if not “wasps” as we usually think of them) manage very well with a mostly wingless lifestyle; of course, queens and males start out with wings but the main purpose here seems to be that flying allows them to migrate to new territories and the queens drop their wings once they are ready to start a colony. Certain other hymenopteran females (e.g. Mutillidae) have dispensed with wings altogether and they may rely on the winged males to carry them to new habitats.

There are some notes here which discuss some of the theories about why insects might evolve flightlessness: https://ag.arizona.edu/classes/ento596c/topic/session4.html


Thank you both for your long explanation! - Yes, of course there are birds, which can’t fly…, it just seems to be logicaly to compare them to inscets without wings or which can’t fly. - But as this information is new for me, I will start to learn about it!
I haven’t checked out the last link. Will do! :grinning:

As for Ants… I don’t think of them as wasps… but as “Hautflügler”, but as I just checked on wikipedia…, “Tallienwespen” is in the systematic of them! - I didn’t know that either…

So much to learn.

Thank you!!

Klasse: Insekten (Insecta)

Ordnung: HautflĂĽgler (Hymenoptera)
Unterordnung: Taillenwespen (Apocrita)
Teilordnung: Stechimmen (Aculeata)
Ăśberfamilie: Vespoidea
Familie: Ameisen

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I often see wasps whose wings are very narrow and/or mostly transparent, and therefore easy to miss.

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