There are many wonderful things about summertime. The trees are showing off their greenery. Lakes and ocean fronts are alive with activity. And backyard barbecues are in full swing. Yes, summertime is a time of many outdoor activities, but there are a few things that can completely ruin a day of fun in the sun like rain, a cold snap, or an influx of stinging pests in your yard. Today, we are going to focus on the pesky stinging insects that are common in our area and what can be done about them.
These hornets are North American insects which build large paper nests to house a social colony. Bald-faced hornets, also called white-faced hornets, measure around 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch in length and are not actually true hornets, but are more closely related to yellow jackets than hornets. They have stout bodies that are black with white markings both on the front of the head and on the tip of the abdomen. The face on a bald-faced hornet is mostly white with dark-colored eyes that stand out in contrast. Because of their size and coloration, sometimes these wasps are mistaken for bees.
The nests these hornets build are ball-shaped and can sometimes reach up to 3 feet tall and are usually built at least three feet off the ground. In nature, these nests may be in trees or shrubs. On a home, they can be built in a variety of places. Within these nests, there are typically between 100 and 400 stinging hornets that will go all out to protect their home. If threatened, or if there is a disturbance of some kind, these social insects will swarm and have the ability to sting repeatedly. Since there are always a few "sentry wasps" keeping a watch out for danger, swarms are more likely, and any movement within three feet of the nest will get them excited.
These stinging insects can be provoked even by loud noises or strong smells. And while their venom may not be poisonous to most people, it can potentially be deadly to those who are allergic.
These wasps measure around 5/8 to 3/4 of an inch in length, are usually brownish with yellow markings, and their legs are mostly yellowish orange. Some species of paper wasps have reddish markings. Paper wasps are sometimes confused with yellow jackets because of their black and yellow coloration but, you shouldn't confuse them, they are distinctly different in shape. If you see what you think is a yellow jacket, but it has a thin body, it is most likely a paper wasp.
While yellow jackets make nests in hidden places, paper wasp nests are often found on rooflines, windows, rafters, and overhangs. They also sometimes build nests in trees. While not as aggressive as some other stinging insects, they do swarm to protect their nests.
A yellow jacket is black and yellow and will typically grow in size to be around 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch in length. These are extremely aggressive wasps that protect their nests at all cost.
This is particularly important to note because these stinging insects build their nests in hidden locations, such as a cavity in a home or a hole in the ground. And it doesn't take much to provoke these insects into swarming and stinging. In fact, you don't even have to be anywhere near a yellow jacket nest to provoke them. The vibrations of a lawn mower from several yards away can provoke them. And, like all wasps, yellow jackets have the ability to sting multiple times without losing their stinger. Like any stinging pest, these are especially dangerous to vulnerable people who have an allergy to their venom.
What You As A Homeowner Can Do
The more knowledge you can glean about stinging insects, the better. Knowing which insect is which, where they build their nests, and how protective they are of their nests can be the difference between staying safe and suffering multiple stings. But, beyond just knowing their habits and habitats, the removal of nests is key to your safety and the safety of your family (especially if you have allergic individuals, or do not know if someone might be allergic.)
A Complete Solution
If you need assistance with nest removal or ongoing pest service that includes nest removal, reach out to Witt Pest Management. When it comes to stinging pests, it is always best to have routine inspections and nest removal from an experienced and educated professional.