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Common Stinging Insects and How to Keep them out of Your Home

August 24, 2015

Nothing can ruin your day quite like a stinging insect. Getting stung can be very painful, at best, and life-threatening, at worst. (More than 2 million Americans are allergic to stings from bees, wasps, and yellow jackets, suffering severe reactions that may require hospitalization.)

Unfortunately, you don’t have to go outside to encounter these insects. Wasps and bees can build nests on and inside homes, seeking food and shelter to hibernate. The good news is that you can protect yourself and your family by learning how to recognize the signs of an infestation and what to do if your home is infested.

Stinging Insects and Their Homes

There are a wide variety of stinging insects out there, but the most common in our area are bees, wasps, and yellow jackets.

Bees

honey bee

Bees are typically easy to recognize, as most people are familiar with them. Common bee types include the honey bee and the bumblebee. A honey bee is about half an inch long, with an oval-shaped, winged body that is segmented into three parts. It has light brown and yellow stripes and looks fuzzy. Female honey bees have a stinger, while the males do not. A bumblebee has a similar appearance to the honey bee, but it is much larger and fuzzier. It can be up to an inch long, with a rounder winged body. Its stripes are yellow and black. Only female bumblebees have a stinger.

Bee hives are often found in hollow trees and rock crevices at least three feet above the ground. They are easily identified, thanks to their distinct honeycomb appearance.

Wasps

paper wasp

Wasps vary widely in appearance based on the species, but you can recognize most from their “pinched” waist and two pairs of wings. Paper wasps, a common insect in our area, are typically dark brown with black wings and yellow markings. Some, however, look very much like yellow jackets, with a yellow and black body. Wasp nests are often spotted in sheltered areas. These include window sills, door frames, and the eaves of houses. Paper wasps build nests that seem to be made of paper (hence the name).

Yellow Jackets

yellow jacket

Yellow jackets are often mistaken for bees, and vice versa. Like a honey bee, a yellow jacket’s body is winged, has three segments, and is about half an inch long; however, a yellow jacket has a narrower waist and is much less fuzzy than a bee.

The nests of yellow jackets are particularly dangerous because you can stumble upon them— literally! Yellow jackets often build nests on the ground, under steps or porches, or on sidewalks, though they do also build them in the corners of buildings and on branches.

What to Do If You Find a Nest or Hive

When you find a bee hive or wasp nest, the first and most important thing to do is to leave it alone. Bees and wasps can become defensive when disturbed, and it can be dangerous to try to remove the nest yourself.

If You Find a Bee Hive

Because they are pollinators, bees are an important part of the environment—but that doesn’t mean that you should put up with the inconvenience and danger of having them in or near your home. 

Honey bees are not typically aggressive (unless they are Africanized), but they will defend their hive if threatened. Swarms of honey bees may chase people or pets for hundreds of feet. For this reason, it’s a good idea to call a pest control company to relocate the hive.

Bumblebees, on the other hand, are not as dangerous as honey bees; their colonies are much smaller, their life cycle is shorter, and they very rarely sting unless their nest is threatened. Depending on the hive’s proximity to your home, you may be able to leave it there.

If You Find a Wasp or Yellow Jacket Nest

Wasps and yellow jackets are much more aggressive than bees; they are quick to sting, and they may sting you repeatedly. If you find a wasp or yellow jacket nest in or near your home, you should call a pest control professional, like Scherzinger, as soon as possible.

For help handling a problem with stinging insects—whether they are bees, wasps, or yellow jackets—call the experts at Scherzinger Termite and Pest Control. We're a trusted pest control company with more than 80 years of experience serving Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or via web inquiry, Facebook or Twitter.

Authored By: Eric Scherzinger

Quality ProNational Pest Management AssociationOPMABetter Business Bureau Angies List Super Service Award

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