When it’s summertime, the buzzing, stinging pests come out to play. Bees, wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets are all part of the stinging insect group that can become a real problem during the warm months of the year. Not only do they sting or bite, which can be quite painful, they also breed and spread quickly. And if you’re allergic to them, your fun may come to a halt unexpectedly with just one encounter.
Many people aren’t aware of the many different types of bees and wasps out there. Each one is slightly different from the next and has different nesting habits. Our guide to the different types of bees and wasps will help you better identify which pests you’re dealing with.
Flying Stinging Insects
Take a closer look at the various types of flying stinging insects you might see buzzing around your home during the warm summer months.
Bumblebees present a minimal threat to humans and are beneficial flying stinging insects because they pollinate plants and flowers. They will usually stick with pollinating, but if their nest is threatened, they will buzz loudly and defend the nest aggressively, demonstrating this aggression by chasing invaders for long distances. Be aware that bumblebees can sting repeatedly, and their stings are among the more painful ones.
Bumblebees are 1/4- to 1-inch in size, have black and yellow markings, and are fuzzy all over. Their habitats can include nesting on the ground, above the ground around patio areas, or even in the soffits of attics, should they have access to that area of a building. If you’re trying to prevent an infestation of bumblebees, look around at potential nesting areas and seal off any openings.
Carpenter bees look similar to bumblebees with one distinct difference—their abdomen is bare and shiny, whereas a bumblebee’s abdomen will be fuzzy. The name “carpenter” comes from their tendency to bore into wood rather than build nests or colonies. They make what are known as galleries within the wood for raising their young. They tend to prefer old or decaying wood to new wood for building their homes.
These 1/2- to 1-inch sized bees can present a serious threat to property by causing structural damage. When threatened, the male carpenter bee will often hover aggressively in front of the threat, but they don’t have a stinger to inflict any damage. The females have stingers but rarely use them.
Painting or staining wood can deter carpenter bees from boring into it. Keep an eye out for holes in any wood on your property, and watch for hovering bees, which could indicate you’re dealing with carpenter bees.
Honey bees are the type of bees we tend to think of when we hear the term “bee.” They get their name from the honey they produce using the nectar of flowers. They are smaller than bumblebees and carpenter bees at 1/2- to 5/8-inch in size and are orangish brown or black. They live in colonies known as hives with as many as 20,000 to 80,000 individuals.
Honey bees are not aggressive. They will only attack in defense when they are attacked or the hive is threatened. These bees are very social and are highly useful to the environment, just like bumblebees, with their pollination of flowers. Do not approach a honey bee colony should you find one. The safest way to do so would be wearing a bee suit. Again, the bees aren’t going to attack unless provoked, so don’t do anything to provoke them.
Bald-faced hornets are related to the yellowjacket. They get their name from their distinctive white faces that contrast to their mostly dark bodies. This insect is classified as a hornet because of where it makes its nest and its larger size. The nests are enclosed, aerial, and gray in color, with a paper-like appearance.
You’ll know you’re dealing with an infestation if you see their nests, which are almost always going to be very visible. You’ll also see worker bald-faced hornets flying around near the nest or nearby. Strong fragrances and food smells will attract these insects, so be sure to avoid having both outdoors. You can do your part to prevent infestation by sealing up tiny openings and cracks around your home that the hornets could enter.
European hornets are large, measuring 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in size. They have brown bodies with yellow stripes on their abdomens. If you see any of these buzzing around, you’ve likely got an infestation nearby. They like to nest in hollow trees, the inside of porches, attics, inside walls, etc.
These stinging insects are found along the Eastern Seaboard, through the Dakotas, and in Iowa, Illinois, and down to New Orleans. They build nests that look like paper cartons covered in a brown paper envelope that serves as protection. Surprisingly, these hornets are considered beneficial because they control and minimize other pest species. However, if they are found in your home or near it, removal is warranted.
These insects are about 1/2- to 1-inch long and slender, while their relatives are stout and squat. They are typically black with pale markings. Mud daubers are solitary and do not live in colonies or families like other wasps, bees, or hornets. Their homes are made from mud and can usually be found under eaves, on porch ceilings, inside sheds or garages, or inside protected building walls.
Similar to European hornets, mud daubers are considered beneficial because they keep the spider population under control. Should their nest be found in or near your dwelling, you should consider pest control services.
Paper wasps are set apart from other stinging insects by their yellow or reddish markings. They get their name from the dwellings they make, which look a great deal like paper. They are smaller at 5/8- to 3/4-inch in size and like to build their nests in residential areas. You can often find their nests hanging from ceilings, door frames, eaves, etc.
Touching their nest will likely result in being stung, but they are not considered aggressive wasps. They, too, keep the population of other pests down.
Yellowjackets have a distinctive black and yellow pattern and measure between 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch. They live in constructed paper carton nests that can grow to the size of a basketball if left unchecked. Different species of yellowjackets build their nests lower to the ground while others build them aerially.
They won’t sting without provocation, but if their nest is threatened, expect them to be on the defensive. They are also territorial, so even being near their nest could guarantee stings.
Asian Giant Hornets
The Asian giant hornet was first sighted in the United States in 2019. They are the largest of the flying stinging insects, measuring at 1-1/2 to 2 inches in length. They like to live in low forested areas. They feed on other insects and are known to attack and destroy bee colonies. They are known to repeatedly sting targets when attacking.
Pest Control for Types of Bees and Wasps
American Pest Control is ready and able to help you with all of your flying stinging insect pest control needs, including our quarterly services. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our pest control services.