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SUMMERTIME STINGING INSECTS
A mild winter and a warmer-than-usual spring and summer can cause several different stinging insects to make their presence felt earlier than usual. Complaints and concerns for the treatment of stinging insects usually do not surface until the very end of July or even into August. Additionally, extreme weather changes or anomalies, such as El Niño in 1999, can cause problems as late as August, September and October.
From arrival in summertime to the first killing frost in autumn, stinging insects common to the Greater Cincinnati and surrounding areas include paper wasps, bald-faced hornets, bumblebees, honeybees, cicada killers and yellow jackets. Other stinging insects may be present but are not considered dangerous or a nuisance to people, pets or structures.
Paper wasp (Polistes)
These insects build the nests that are usually found under gutters and eves. They are usually not aggressive and only are a danger when disturbed.
Bald-faced hornet (Vespula Maculata)
These hornets build the papery “football-shaped” nests found in trees and shrubs. Most homeowners never know they are present until fall when the leaves drop. Bald-faced hornets can have up to 500 insects in a mature nest, and are know to be extremely aggressive in defense of the nest. Homeowners should never attempt to destroy this nest – it can be very dangerous.
These insects are extremely beneficial in the pollination of fruits, vegetables and flowers. The nest is usually underground but can occasionally be found in log piles and or debris. Unless in a potentially dangerous location to people and pets, these insects should be left alone since once disturbed, they can be very aggressive and dangerous.
Honeybee (Apis Mellifera)
Over the last five years, these extremely beneficial insects have become less and less common. Mites, other predators and disease have reduced populations of these important pollinators to dangerous levels. Unless posing a health and safety risk, no one should destroy a colony and a beekeeper should be contacted. Honeybees are the only stinging insects that will actually survive a winter with the nest or colony intact. All others will die with only the breeding males and females surviving until the following spring.
Cicada killer (Sphecidae)
Usually present for only a short time in late summer, this scary-looking wasp grows to three inches long. Normally, cicada killers will not sting but are very aggressive in flying and actually hitting anything they think will hurt their nest. Females dig a single hole in the ground in which to bury their eggs and the paralyzed insects that serve as food for the young. Adults are usually only present in late summer.
Yellow Jacket (Vespula Maculifrons)
Also known as the “sweat bee” wasp, ground hornet and the picnic bee, whatever their name, they are a huge nuisance. Closely related to hornets, these insects can ruin a fair, picnic, party, cookout or any outdoor function that has food or drink, especially in late summer and early fall. Mature colonies, built in the ground or in hollow voids such as attics or wall spaces in buildings, can reach huge proportions. Each nest can typically hold several thousand insects that will attack and defend the nest if provoked. Individuals are very aggressive in food gathering as often noted in parks and picnic areas.