Stinging Pests - Hornets, Wasps, Bees and Scorpions

Stinging insects play a vital role in the wild, but they can be a real nuisance around your home. A variety of insects have stingers, such as bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and scorpions. When these pests take up residence in your home, they can become dangerous to your family and your pets. Not only do these insects cause painful stings, they can also elicit extreme allergic reactions in those with an allergy to their venom. Some of these allergies are so severe that people can die from a single sting without immediate medical treatment. Because of this danger, insect stings kill more people every year in the U.S. than poisonous snake bites.

Honeybees and bumble bees can sting, but they are incredibly valuable to humans because they pollinate many of our food sources, like berries, tomatoes and eggplant. If the nest you encounter belongs to honeybees or bumble bees, it should be left alone or protected if possible.

The pros at MosquitoNix® can help determine which type of stinging pest is buzzing around your home with our informative Pest Library.

Bee vs. Wasp

Most bees and wasps look similar, with transparent wings and varying combinations of yellow, black and dark brown on their segmented bodies. One way to tell the difference between a bee and a wasp is body shape. Bees have a fairly fat shape and are covered in fuzzy hairs that catch pollen. Most wasps are generally hairless and slenderer with a telltale skinny "waist" - a thinning where the thorax attaches to the abdomen. Another difference is that bees can only sting once and will die fairly soon after stinging. A honeybee stinger is barbed and will remain in the wounded skin. Wasps do not die after stinging and can sting repeatedly.

Types of Stinging Insects

Wasps - Paper wasps are one of the most common stinging pests that bother people. They are black to reddish-brown and less than an inch long. Wasp nests are easily identifiable. They resemble round, upside-down paper combs that are attached to walls and other horizontal surfaces. You can usually see wasps flying in and out of the nest if you watch long enough. Their nests can often be found under awnings, porches and decks on your home.

Lifecycle and diet: Wasps may be solitary and live alone or social and live in colonies, like bees. Social worker wasps live less than a month, whereas solitary wasps and social queen wasps live about a year. These predators feed on caterpillars, spiders and insects.

Pro Tip: Wasps hate clove, geranium and lemongrass oils, so growing these plants or treating your yard with these essential oils may help limit their population.

Hornets - Hornets are social wasps that are closely related to yellow jackets, though larger and typically with a white face. They build colonies in paper nests once per year that are usually found in shrubs and trees. About 20 species of hornet are found throughout Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.

Lifecycle and Diet: Only the queen hornet survives through the winter, and she can live up to 5 years. Workers and drones live only one to four months. Hornets are scavengers who feed on other insects, fruit and discarded food.

Pro Tip: Hornets can be aggressive, especially when their hive is disturbed. And because they tend to build nests in shrubs or trees, their nests can be difficult to get to without encountering lots of painful stings. These insects should only be controlled by a professional to avoid unnecessary stinging.

Yellow Jackets - Yellow jackets are small, black and yellow social wasps that build large colonies near homes. They are aggressive attackers and can sting multiple times without dying. Yellow jacket nests are typically located in the ground and may contain as many as 3,000 wasps. They shouldn't be disturbed by anyone but a professional. Yellow jackets are often mistaken for bees due to their coloring, but they are shinier than bees with no body hair.

Lifecycle and diet: Male yellow jackets die soon after mating, but queens can live up to five years, creating a new colony each year. Adults feed on nectar and sweets like fruit, but larvae are fed captured insects.

Pro Tip: To pinpoint a yellow jacket nest, set out food bait, like ripe fruit, then follow the foraging wasps back to their nest. Once you know where it is, you can treat the problem at its root.

Scorpions - Scorpions are arachnids that are closely related to spiders and mites. These predators prey on insects and sting, like bees and wasps. They are about the size of a teacup with predominate front claws and a long, jointed tail with a stinger at the end. Scorpions like to hide in dark cracks and can crawl into shoes, clothing or a bed and inflict painful stings when encountered. The only dangerous scorpion in the U.S. can be found in southwest Arizona and southern California.

Lifecycle and Diet: Scorpions can live two to six years, and even newborns are venomous. They generally prey on insects but are resourceful scavengers who will go for other arachnids or small rodents when necessary.

Pro Tip: Smaller scorpions tend to be more dangerous to humans than larger ones, but all should be approached with extreme caution. Find these nocturnal creatures at night by using a UV flashlight or blacklight that will make them glow greenish in the dark.

In order to properly control stinging pests, technicians must remove the nest altogether. Our professionals are sure to wear protective clothing to stay safe from harmful stings as they complete the service. Another consideration to make when controlling stinging insects is whether or not the hive you find belongs to honeybees. These sweet bees are incredibly valuable for their pollination work and should be protected when possible. Our professionals will first evaluate the situation to determine what type of stinging pest you're dealing with and how it should be removed. Contact us today for a quote.