Wasps are neither ants nor bees but tiny insects belonging to the family Vespidae. There are over 100,000 described species of wasps and many other undescribed species around the world. The species vary in sizes with the largest wasp being the Asian giant hornet. The size of a wasp can be determined by the total body length from the head to the tip of the abdomen. It can also be measured by the wingspan. Wingspan is the distance between the two tips of the wasp’s wing. However, the popular method of determining the largest wasp is the use of the total body length since in some species the female has no wings. Here are the three largest wasps in the world.
3. Asian Giant Hornet
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), also referred to as yak-killer hornet is the largest hornet in the world. An adult can grow up to 1.8 inches long with a wingspan of 3 inches and stinger measuring 0.24 inches long which is used to inject a large amount of potent venom into the body of the prey. The queen can grow up to 2.8 inches. The Asian giant hornet is referred to as a wasp because hornets are the largest of the eusocial wasps. That is, the highest level of organization of the wasps. The Asian giant hornet inhabits the temperate and tropical Eastern Asia, preferring the low mountains and forests. They can be found in Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India. The species has a light orange head with brown antennae and dark brown to black eyes. It has orange mandibles that contain black tooth. The wings are gray and vary in the span. The abdomen has the characteristic alternating black and yellow band.
2. Tarantula Hawk
Tarantula Hawk (Pompilidae) are parasitoid wasps distributed throughout the world. The can be found in all the continents of the world. The wasp paralyze the prey by the sting then drags it to its nest as living food. While in its nest, the tarantula wasp lays an egg on the prey that hatches into larvae and feeds on the living prey. The larvae enter into the body of the prey where it feeds on it, avoiding the vital organs to the prey alive as long as possible. Tarantula hawks are one of the largest wasps in the world. An adult wasp can be as long as 2 inches and has blue-black body and brightly colored wings. The outstanding color its body, especially the wings serve as a warning that the wasp can deliver a very painful sting. Its sting is among the most painful stings in the world. The legs are long and have hooked claws for grasping the victim.
1. Giant Scoliid Wasp
The giant scoliid wasp (Megascolia procer) is a member of the Scoliidae family, commonly found in Sumatra and Java islands of Indonesia. It is a parasitoid of the Atlas beetle, paralyzing the beetle with its sting and lays its egg on it. The wasp then buries the beetle underground for the larvae to hatch with the hatched larvae feeding on the still-living host. The giant scoliid wasp has a wingspan of 11.6 cm with the wings structurally colored. The male wasp is more slender and elongated than the female, with the antennae significantly elongated. The male is territorial, especially when it wants to mate.