Stinging insects in Portland: What you need to know

Stinging insects are more prevalent in the Portland metro area during the late summer. If you live in cities close to Portland such as Tigard, Beaverton, Clackamas, Hillsboro, Wilsonville and Lake Oswego, it’s important to keep an eye out for increased stinging insect activity. Though stinging insects help pollinate flowering plants, they can also give you a dose of pain. Remember: never take it upon yourself to eliminate these insects – rely on a professional, such as a specialist from Western Exterminator. Contact us online or call 888-674-2051 to talk with an expert about your concern.

Here’s what you should know about a few common types of stinging insects that you might run into in the Portland area.

bumble beeBees

Bees are central to our world but can also bring on fear and allergic reactions. You may run into honey bees, bumble bees or carpenter bees.

Bumble bee workers are about ¼ to one inch long and queens are about ¾ to one inch long. They are usually black with yellow marks and look hairy. These insects reside in nests or colonies. Some bumble bee species will find a dark cavity that’s typically underground to nest. Other species will nest in a clump of grass. Bumble bees can sting multiple times.

Honey bees are typically orangish brown. Workers are about ½ to ⅝ inches long; queens are a bit bigger, at about ⅝ to ¾ inches, and males are about ⅝ inches long. Honey bees live in hives and the queen may lay up to 1,500 to 2,000 eggs per day. If you get close to the hive, they can become aggressive, but undisturbed honey bees are unlikely to sting.


Wasps are another stinging insect you should definitely be on the lookout for in Portland. What’s the difference between a wasp and a bee? Wasp bodies have the appearance of being smooth, whereas bees look like they’re hairy. Learn about some wasps you might stumble upon.

Yellow jacket workers are about ⅜ to ⅝ inches long and queens are a bit longer; their abdomens are typically yellow and black. They reside in colonies or nests. Yellow jacket nests may hang from plant roots, landscape timbers or logs, or can be found underground or in wall voids. If you get near their nest entrance, yellow jackets can become aggressive. Queens that have mated can survive the winter in locations such as cavities in the soil, behind siding, hollow logs, and firewood. Yellow jackets are capable of stinging multiple times.

Bald-faced hornets are large yellow jackets that are mostly black in color but have mainly white faces. Their nests can be located in shrubs, trees, under building eaves, on overhangs, houses, or sheds. The nests can be more than 2 feet long.

Another type of wasp to keep in mind is the paper wasp. These creatures are about ⅝ to ¾ inches long, have long legs, and are usually brownish in color with yellow marks (a few species have reddish marks). The nest is made of one paper-like layer and may hang from a branch or twig.

You might also run into a mud dauber nest – mud daubers are wasps that build their nests out of the mud. They are typically black and can have a metallic shine or pale marks. Mud daubers don’t have colonies and they seldom sting. They like creating their nests in places such as attics, open sheds and garages, and under eaves.

Prevent insect stings

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t want to get stung. You can take some precautionary steps.

  1. Try not to wear loose-fitting clothes and open-toed shoes.
  2. Get rid of standing water around your house.
  3. Cover food if you’re eating outside until it’s time to eat.
  4. See a nest that looks like an upside-down umbrella hanging from a tree or shrub branch? It’s probably a paper wasp nest. If you’re trimming the shrub or snagging a piece of fruit from a tree and touch the nest, you’re likely to be stung. The nest may also hang from a porch ceiling, eaves, or attic rafters. To be careful, look and see whether a shrub or hedge has a paper wasp nest prior to trimming.

If you’re worried about stinging insects in your home or business then contact our experts today!

Ashley Smith

Ashley is a Digital Content Manager with Rentokil. She loves drinking coffee and spending time with her dogs.

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