Ah, springtime: the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing…the insects are stinging.
Now that winter is over, you can expect to encounter stinging insects (and other pests) around your home and yard. There are dozens of stinging insects common in Ohio: you might find bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, mud daubers, and other insects.
Here are just a few that might take up residence around your home:
- Honey bee
- Bumble bee
- Carpenter bee
- Cuckoo bee
- Sweat bee
- European hornet
- Bald-faced hornet
- Northern paper wasp
- European paper wasp
- Potter wasp
- Eastern cicada killer
- Pipe organ mud dauber
- Eastern yellow jacket
(Fun fact: bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets are all part of the same scientific order: Hymenoptera.)
Some of these stinging insects are mostly harmless—even beneficial (think honey bees). But others are aggressive and territorial—and you really don’t want them around your home!
How to Avoid a Stinging Insect Infestation
You don’t have to wait until there are swarms of bees or wasps around your home to deal with stinging insects. As they say—prevention is the best medicine.
By following a few simple steps, you can help keep stinging insects away from your home. This is because, while stinging insects are almost everywhere, there are a few places they prefer. Get rid of what’s attracting them to your home, and they will be less likely to take up residence on your garage or deck.
Here are our tips:
#1 Cover and remove sweet things.
Ever notice how wasps seem to show up during an outdoor picnic? To avoid attracting them, cover sugary foods and drinks. After the party, remove leftover food ASAP and seal any trash cans. You might also consider removing bird food, nectar, and pet food. To keep stinging insects away from you personally, also avoid sweet, flowery perfumes and lotions when you’re outdoors for extended periods.
#2 Keep your home, garage, and deck well-maintained.
Broken panels, holes in soffits, gaps, torn screens, and other crevices are great spots for nests. By keeping your home and yard well-maintained, you can encourage stinging insects to nest elsewhere. This also ensures that the insects don’t get inside your home. (Yikes!)
#3 Make yard work a habit.
Just as it’s a good idea to maintain your home, maintaining your yard is important for stinging insect prevention. That’s because some wasps, like yellow jackets, build their nest in ground holes—and you certainly don’t want to run over one of those with your lawnmower! To avoid this, keep up with your yard work and regularly fill in any holes left by rodents.
#4 Plant flower gardens away from your home.
Gardens attract not only bees but also wasps, hornets, etc. (As we said above, many stinging insects like sweet things like flowers—but others will also prey on the other insects in your garden.) If you garden, consider planting mostly non-flowering plants or keep flowering plants to the periphery of your yard.
How to Get Rid of Stinging Insects Safely
First, a warning: insect stings can cause pain and, in some people, severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. (Bees are a common allergy, but it’s also possible to be allergic to other stinging insects.) Before attempting to remove stinging insects—and especially stinging insect nests—be sure that you are not allergic to the insect’s sting.
If you follow the tips above, you may only encounter a few stinging insects (or none!) around your home. Any stray stinging insects can be dealt with in a few ways:
#1 Use wasp traps.
This remedy won’t work for infestations, of course, but it can be a good method if you need to control any stray insects that wander into your outdoor picnic. These traps can be purchased at your local home improvement store or DIY-ed with an old plastic soda bottle and sweet liquid (like soda or juice).
Note: some hardware stores sell “wasp decoys” that are supposed to keep wasps away by showing that the yard has been claimed by other wasps (as some wasps are territorial). However, take these claims with a grain of salt: they aren’t proven, and online reviews for the decoys are a mixed bag.
#2 Remove old nests.
Old nests aren’t reused (except in the case of carpenter bees), but wasps will come back to a good nesting site year after year. To prevent them from nesting in the same place twice, it’s important to remove the old nest and make the area less hospitable for them (fixing holes, screens, etc.). That said, make absolutely sure that the nest is empty before attempting to remove it. Wasp workers, for example, die off in the cold of winter, with only the queens surviving to rebuild the next year. If you attempt to remove what looks like an old nest during the warmer seasons, proceed with extreme caution.
#3 Call an exterminator for active nests.
We don’t recommend that you attempt to deal with a stinging insect infestation on your own, for two reasons:
Bees are important pollinators, so their hives should be moved (instead of eliminated) when possible. We understand why you wouldn’t want bees around your home (especially if a family member is allergic); however, consider hiring a professional to move the hive: it’s good for the environment and safer for you.
Wasps are typically aggressive, and nest removal can be dangerous. Most wasps (with a few exceptions) are very protective and will become aggressive if their nest is threatened. If you attempt to remove an active nest by yourself, you risk being stung repeatedly. (Many stinging insects have “smooth stingers” that allow them to sting repeatedly until the threat—i.e. you—is eliminated.)
If you find a nest, we advise calling in the professionals. A pest control expert has the knowledge, tools, training, and protective gear necessary to safely dispose of the nest.
Call Us Today
Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.