Every year near the end of the season, people think that there are more wasps than the year before. It’s impossible to say for sure if there are more… or fewer! In fact, what we see at the end of summer and beginning of the fall is the peak of the population, at a time when they are most active and therefore noticeable.
Colonies of social wasps disband completely each year until the workers die in the first frosts. Only new queens will survive the winter by hiding wherever they can – holes in the ground, between layers of tree bark, etc. When spring arrives, young queens look for a place to build a nest alone and do the work to build their colony (building the nest, laying eggs, hunting, and rearing their larvae). As summer progresses, the number of adults in the colony increases more and more rapidly. At the end of the summer, there are many more wasps in the same colony than at the beginning. Each year, this life cycle makes it seem like the number of wasps has suddenly skyrocketed and that they are everywhere.
To learn more about wasps, consult the fact sheet on social wasps and hornets in the Insects and other arthropods section.