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Wasps are the natural predators of the insect world, with almost every pest insect species having its own wasp species preying upon it. The majority of species (over 100,000) are parasitic, laying eggs with their ovipositor directly into the body of host insects. While most wasps are parasites as larvae, as adults they only feed on nectar.

The most familiar wasps belong to the group Aculeata (stinging wasps) with ovipositors adapted into a venomous sting. This group, also containing ants and bees, is part of the order Hymenoptera which originated in the Triassic (220 million years ago) with the first social hymenopterans appearing during the Cretaceous – 100 million years later.

All wasps are either solitary or social with adult solitary wasps being fertile and living alone without nests. Social wasps, however, build nests, existing in colonies up to several thousand. In some social species, only the queen and male wasps mate, with the majority becoming sterile female workers. In many species becoming a colony's queen is determined by which female lays eggs first and begins the nest and then eats the eggs of rival females. This process selects the strongest female as the queen with the subordinate females serving the new queen and her young.

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