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During the spring, bees and wasps start coming out. Even in warmer areas, the temperatures drop just enough to cause bees and wasps to go into hibernation. Some wasps may hibernate inside your home, usually in the attic. When the sun comes out, that all changes. They start seeking places to build nests and queens start looking for places to lay their eggs. Sometimes stinging insects build their nests right near where you live or work.
However, in the Western United States, we don’t just have to worry about bees and wasps. There are also scorpions, red imported fire ants, and species of caterpillar that pack a punch. Each has the potential to sting and bring about concerns for those who have allergies to insect stings.
In an attempt to answer the questions most often asked about stinging pests, we present “Everything you should know about stinging pests.”
Also, remember that Western Exterminator is your local pest control expert and if you have a problem with stinging pests or other pests, contact us today for an appointment with one of our technicians.
Stinging insects are arthropods that carry venom and have stingers or body parts that allow them to sting prey and potential threats. When they are hunting for food, they use their stingers to inject venom to either kill or incapacitate their prey.
Stinging insects that most people think about include bees, wasps and hornets, but there are more than just those insects. Ants, scorpions, and the larvae of certain moths all have the ability to sting and inject venom.
No, it isn’t just flying insects that sting. There are many other insects that sting and some of them don’t even have wings. Scorpions have stingers on their tails, for example, and use them to paralyze prey or defend themselves. Red Imported Fire Ants have stingers and can inject venom, as well. Also, some species of moths, in their larval stage, are covered with hairs that sting and inject venom in order to protect themselves from predators.
There are many types of stinging arthropods and they all vary in appearance in one way or another. This often causes confusion among the people that have stinging pest infestations. Is it a bee? A wasp? Hornets? How do you know if the ants that you see are fire ants or something else?
It’s pretty much impossible to give an exact number. There are numerous insects that sting and many thousands of wasps, bees, hornets, scorpions, ants and caterpillars throughout the world.
Many kinds of insects sting. Most people probably think about bees and wasps, but there are also crawling arthropods such as ants and scorpions. There are even caterpillars for certain species of moths that carry stinging methods to ward of predators.
Stinging insects of one kind or another live in all environments and climates around the world. The only place on earth that does not have insects naturally would be arctic regions such as Antarctica. There is a higher density of stinging insects in warmer climates. Areas that experience winter weather often find themselves free of stinging pests during those months.
Stinging insects are found all over the planet, with the exception of extremely cold climates like that of Antarctica. They are located in North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
Stinging insects tend to have several beneficial purposes. The most common and well known is that bees are pollinators, which is vital for crops and flowers to grow and thrive. However, wasps and arachnids like scorpions also feed on other insects that can be even more dangerous or even bigger pests. Thus, they are natural forms of pest control in many cases.
It depends on the stinging insect, of course. Bees have legs covered with hairs that capture pollen from plants, which they then transport to other plants. This is a vital and necessary thing for plants to grow and thrive, so if you’re a gardener, you probably already know that bees are your friends.
For wasps and hornets, there are benefits that you might not think of and they are often unfairly categorized as villains and “useless.” In fact, many species of wasps, yellowjackets and hornets eat other insects, including pests such as caterpillars, beetle larvae and species of flies.
The same can be said for crawling stinging pests, such as scorpions. Even fire ants devour insects such as ticks, mites and ants and help aerate the soil by building their nests and tunnels underground.
There are a number of places where stinging insects, particularly flying insects, create their nests. The most common one that most people are probably familiar with is what bees and wasps do. Some species of wasps, such as paper wasps and hornets, chew substances into a pulp and then build their nests, or hives, under eaves, beneath porches, by pools and other areas. The problem there is that sometimes that puts them right into the path of families, pets and children.
Mud daubers are more solitary wasps and get their names from building mud tubes on porches and sides of houses for their nests. Other wasps and bees create their hives in interior spaces and will build them inside walls and siding of homes, which can cause wasps and hornets to end up inside homes.
There are certain species that build their nests underground. Some yellow jacket species create nests underground. Bumblebees also often build nests underground.
The wasp and hornet nests that are built around homes look pear-shaped and made out of paper. They can become huge, populated with thousands of wasps. The nests can be both indoors and outdoors and wasps and hornets will use any space in the siding of a home to build a nest. They will also build nests in attics and other areas, creating an infestation inside buildings and homes.
There are species of wasps and bees, such as European hornets and honeybees, that will also build their nests in holes in trees or hollowed-out logs.
Paper wasps have open-faced nests where you can see the various chambers where they put their young. Many other wasp and hornet species build nests that almost look like decorations and are entirely enclosed with just a singular opening.
Fire ants have entirely different nests, many of them underground. Scorpions like to hide individually in places like woodpiles and under rocks. Fire ants build the nests underground like other forms of ants.
Stinging insect pest nests can be very challenging to remove and can be dangerous to try and remove on your own. Contact us for information about dealing with stinging pests.
There are several species of bees and wasps that will build their nests underground. Certain species of bumblebees nest underground. Certain species of yellow jackets will also build their nests underground, as well. Many non-aggressive solitary bees and wasps also tunnel in the ground to provide food for their larvae. It can be very important to watch the bees or wasps that you see in the yard, particularly if you see a large or increased number of them around, to determine where the nests are. If a nest is disturbed, this can trigger the impulse to swarm and defend the nest.
Wasps have stingers that can retract into their bodies. They have smooth stingers, without barbs on the end. This is what separates wasps and honeybees from each other and one of the things that can make a wasp and hornet swarm more dangerous than bees. The smooth stinger means they do not lose their stingers and die after they sting, so they can sting repeatedly. Wasps will land on their prey and sting and bite in order to defend their nests.
Bees are very different from wasps. Generally speaking, bees are docile and will not actively attack people. That changes when a bee is handled or their hives are threatened. For honeybees, however, attacking humans or animals is a suicide mission. This is because honeybees have barbs at the end of their stingers. This causes the stinger to lodge in the skin of whatever they attack. Once a honeybee lands on the intended victim, it will sting and then take off. Because the barb has been inserted into the flesh of the victim, it pulls out the bee’s insides as it leaves. That means that the sting of a honeybee will kill the bee.
The differences between bees and wasps come in two different categories. The first is appearance. In general, bees have bodies that appear hairy, due to the design of their bodies and the setae, or tiny hairs. Wasps also have setae, but they are built differently, harder to see and it makes the wasp’s bodies appear smooth instead of hairy. Wasps also tend to be thinner than bees.
The other thing that tends to differentiate bees and wasps is temperament. Bees are generally not very aggressive. They only become so when their nests are disturbed or they are threatened in some way. Wasps and hornets tend to be more aggressive and protect their nests in a wider radius than bees. The exception to this rule is the Africanized Honey Bee, which is notorious for its aggressiveness and very wide radius of defense, with attacks coming in massive swarms that can overwhelm victims.
Stinging insects eat a variety of things, and it depends on the species and type of stinging insect that you’re dealing with. There are species of wasp that prefer to eat other insects, while bees eat nectar. Certain wasps also eat nectar, but there are several species of wasp that also feed on a sweet secretion produced by the larvae from their nests. There are wasps that will paralyze a spider, pull it into a nest and lay an egg on the abdomen of the spider. Then the egg will hatch and the larvae burrow inside the spider, slowly devouring it from the inside out.
Scorpions are similar to their spider cousins and eat other insects, which they paralyze with their sting and then pull apart with their claws to then consume. Fire ants are omnivores and eat meat, grease and sweet food. They will consume plants and other insects as well.
Wasps and bees swarm for a number of reasons. Honey bees do so to help propagate the species. During periods of heavy nectar flow, a honeybee queen may run out of room to lay eggs. In this case she will leave the nest in search of a new void to live in. Roughly half of the nest swarms out to protect her and support her in the building of the new nest. The other half of the workers will remain in the existing nest and raise a new queen to take over egg-laying.
Wasps are another matter. They tend to be very aggressive and likely to defend their nests. In order to protect their nest, wasps will leave it in huge numbers, sending out pheromones that tell the rest of their colony that the nest is under attack, which will send out more wasps. If you swat at them, they release more pheromones indicating they are in trouble, which will just attract more. They accomplish the defense of their nests by overwhelming and repeatedly stinging whatever the threat is.
Africanized Honey Bees are not quite like their more docile cousins. They will swarm in huge numbers and they will guard a much larger area than standard honeybees. They will literally attempt to sting to death whatever it is that has threatened or disturbed their nests, which is enough to overwhelm even those not allergic to stings.
Solitary wasps will produce eggs and offspring, but they do not live in hives with hundreds, or even thousands, of fellow drones and workers. Mud daubers, potter wasps and pollen wasps are examples of solitary wasps. Once the female wasp mates, they go it alone, foraging for food, and building nests. Sometimes they congregate in small groups, but they don’t have the numbers of other species nor do they support one another.
Social wasps are the species of wasp that create nests and have huge numbers that live and work inside of them. They create colonies where each member has a specific duty or job, such as workers, drones, and the caretakers who take care of the larvae. A large number of wasps will gather material to then shape into nests. The size, overall shape and appearance of the nest varies by species.
Like many things, there are a variety of answers to this question. It depends on the species and what the particular bee or wasp does within the colony. For example, a queen bee, if taken care of properly, can live for several years. Most workers, who are out doing the work to support the hive, only live for a few weeks to a few months. Many bees and wasps die when the weather changes. However, a properly tended honeybee queen can stay warm and over-winter in a nest.
Wasp life spans also vary. A general rule for North American wasps is that worker wasps, which are non-fertile females, live between 12-22 days. The fertile males, known as drones, can live a bit longer than that while the average queen lives about a year. New wasp queens are created each fall, and will overwinter in a dormant state to start new nests in the spring.
Absolutely. Wasps and bumblebees do not have barbed stingers, which means they do not lose their stingers once they have stung someone like honey bees. That means they can sting someone multiple times and this makes an attack by wasps more dangerous than attacks or swarms from honey bees.
Not all bees, no. The only bees that die after they sting are the honey bee. Bumblebees, most species of solitary bees, wasps and hornets have smooth stingers that will not cause them to rip out their digestive tract and other necessary things that will kill them.
Not necessarily. Most insects, particularly flying insects, have a predilection for light and that’s why lighted “bug zappers” attract all kinds of insects, from moths to bees and wasps. Bees and wasps tend to find lights, such as those in bug zappers, worth investigating in the early dusk hours as the light is dimming. Bees and wasps tend to be attracted to things that could be potential food such as sweet substances, meat and other materials. Bees also like flowers and plants, while wasps will seek out smaller insects for food.
It depends. The short answer is – yes, they can pose a potential health risk, but that is greatly magnified by the fact some people are allergic to insect stings. For those who have an allergy to bee and wasp stings, the sting can lead to anaphylactic shock, inability to breathe and can even be fatal.
For people who are not allergic, there is very little danger in bee and wasp stings. The risk increases if a person is swarmed, perhaps by Africanized Honey Bees. Otherwise, the most likely reaction to stings is pain at the sting site and some swelling. Household remedies can often take care of those issues.
There are a number of symptoms that could indicate you have an allergy to bee stings or insect stings in general.
If the reaction is severe enough, someone stung might actually pass out and lose consciousness. This is a serious issue and the person should seek medical treatment immediately.
For most people, removing the stinger (in the case of honeybees) and then washing the area with soap and water is enough to deal with the pain and swelling involved in a bee sting. For people without allergies, sometimes taking an antihistamine also helps with the swelling.
For those with allergies, it can be much more serious and reactions that can go from painful to life-threatening can happen very fast. It is imperative that medical attention be sought as soon as possible so that oxygen and other treatments can be given if needed.
For those who already know they are allergic to bee stings, many carry an injectable Epinephrine device. This is a medication that can help someone with allergies reduce their body’s reaction to the allergen. This can help, but medical attention should still be sought as fluids, oxygen and other medications may be required to alleviate the symptoms and those must be administered by a medical professional.
For people without allergies, the best thing that you can do to heal from a sting is to let time take its course. For those without allergies, your body will be able to handle the sting and the amount of venom injected. For a honeybee sting, remove the stinger using a fingernail, tweezers or sharp knife blade to stop the injection of any more venom. After that, wash with soap and water and apply anti-swelling medications. Try to avoid scratching the area as that can cause the area to swell and bacteria from your fingernails can get into the wound.
The sooner you can get the stinger out, the better. The amount of venom that can be injected by grasping the stinger with fingers or tweezers is minimal and the key is to remove the stinger quickly. So, if you see the stinger and can remove it with fingers, fingernails or tweezers, then do so.
For most stinging pests, they will likely sting you if they feel that their nest is threatened. Bees and wasps use scents known as pheromones that provide information to other bees and wasps in the area. They release them when they find food and other reasons, but they send out alert pheromones when the nest is threatened. So if you find a nest anywhere on your property, be careful about approaching it.
Bees and wasps tend to be particularly active during the later summer months when nest sizes are approaching maximum numbers. Bees and wasps like warmer weather and will become much less active in the late fall.
Wasps and bees will react if you wave your hands around. Although this is common among people trying to get rid of a bee or wasp, the insect will take this as a threat and release pheromones that they are in trouble or threatened. Waving hands and arms around can cause more insects to show up and actually trigger the reaction to sting. Remain calm and move away from the area where the bees and wasps are the most active.
There is something called the Schmidt Pain Index that was created by a scientist who allowed himself to be stung by a variety of insects. He rated the pain of each stinging insect and that is how the painfulness of insect stings is determined. Ranked highest was the Bullet ant followed by the Tarantula Hawk. To learn more about Schmidt's research, check out "OUCH! The top 5 most painful insect stings."
Since stinging insects cover more than just bees, there are species of stinging insects that can pose a threat even to those who are not allergic to them. Most of the time, the stinging insects that pose a threat do so because they inject venom.
For example, some species of scorpion, like the bark scorpion, carries a very potent venom that can cause concern among anyone stung, not just those with allergies.
Northern giant hornets, formerly known as Asian Giant Hornets, are large insects that are known to be very aggressive if their nests are disturbed. They have large stingers and can inject very large amounts of venom over and over again. They have been known to cause fatalities and can attack in very large numbers.
Red Imported Fire Ants are also known to attack in large numbers and if enough of them sting someone, the venom injected could be a health risk even if you are not allergic. Bullet Ants and Bulldog Ants are also known for their ability to inject potent venom.
Africanized Honey Bees will try to sting to death anything that is a perceived threat. For even an average person without allergies, 500 – 1,500 stings can be fatal. The Africanized bees have been known to attack in such large numbers that fatalities occur.
If someone with allergies is stung, they should remove the stinger, use an Epinephrine injector and then seek medical attention. Time is critical, so medical help should be sought as quickly as possible.
Anyone who has allergies to bee stings should do all they can to avoid stings, but they should also carry with them, at all times, whatever medication their doctors have prescribed. Some may get regular injections, but others might also carry Epinephrine injectors to counteract the stings. They should also carry the phone numbers of their doctors and seek medical attention quickly if they are stung.
Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see increased bee or wasp activity on your property, be careful and do not agitate the insects by attempting to remove their nests on your own. If you see a large number of bees or wasps flying around, do not wave your hands around as this can trigger a reaction from the insects that brings more of them to the scene and increases the chances for stings. Avoid nest areas as much as you can and make sure food, particularly sweet things, are not left lying around your property. Also, make sure that garbage can lids are secured. Make sure that there is nothing in your yard in which bees or wasps might build nests such as old appliances, log piles and vegetation.
Of course, the best way to avoid being stung is to get rid of stinging pests if they build a nest around your home or property. Contact us for help with stinging pests!
It is very highly recommended that you call a pest control professional to get rid of wasps or bees. The risk of a swarm is too great. A licensed, trained, pest control professional will wear the right protective clothing and use the right tools to safely remove nests.
There are a number of over-the-counter sprays available that claim to be able to send a stream of insecticide into the nests and completely wipe them out. However, over the counter sprays can pose health risks on their own and may cause swarming.
The best bet is to make your property unattractive to bees and wasps so they don’t want to set up their nests. Clearing away areas that can be prone to nests and ensuring cracks in the siding and roof are sealed can prevent them from setting up nests inside the walls and in the attic.
If you do attempt to remove a wasp’s nest, make sure your entire body is covered and try to do it at night when they are likely to be less active. If you use a light when administering the treatment, make sure you shut it off as soon as you can as any wasps or hornets that escape the treatment will likely be extra aggressive and will come right at the light. Once the nest has been destroyed and the wasps inside killed, it needs to be removed completely. Some species of wasps and bees will re-use abandoned nests, so you could end up treating a nest only to have more bees later on.
Remember, honeybees are beneficial to the environment and local regulations may prevent the use of insecticides and poisons to remove a nest. If you think you might have honeybees and you are certain they pose a health threat to someone in your home or family, call in a local professional. You can even call local beekeepers to assist in removal.
It takes a lot of work to make sure that stinging insects do not build nests and create infestations in and around your home. Wasps and bees like to scavenge for meats and sweet drinks during backyard barbecues or other outdoor activities. Bees and wasps also like to find places hidden away. That’s why you find them under eaves, in the corners of windows, under decks, railings, between cracks in the pavement and spaces between walls, inside attics, basements and crawl spaces.
The best bet you have is to make sure you keep garbage can lids secured and make sure that hiding places and materials that will attract them are removed, especially sweets. If you live near dumpsters, make sure the lids are secured there, as well. This is particularly important if you have a home or residence near a business that prepares food.
There are trees and shrubs that wasps and hornets find particularly attractive. Maples, willows, evergreens and others secrete sap that attracts aphids and other insects that wasps like to feed on. Some species of bees and wasps like to set up their hives or nests in the branches of trees and old, hollowed out tree trunks and logs. Make sure that they are inspected for nests and hives and excessive plant debris is removed.
The other thing you have to worry about is wasps, hornets and bees that like to set up their nests inside structures. That means conducting a thorough inspection of your home. Look for holes and spaces in the siding of attics, basements and crawlspaces. Some bees will use spaces in benches, piles of wood and other areas. A professional pest control expert or bee expert can help determine areas of concern and even offer ways of protecting your home from infestations and invasions.
Unlike pests such as mosquitoes, there is really nothing that you can spray on yourself or do around your home that will repel bees and wasps. It is also not recommended that you spray insecticides or repellents on yourself or your family to try and keep stinging pests away.
Since bees and wasps like nectar, it is nearly impossible to find or plant anything that will have any kind of repelling effect on them. However, having carnivorous plants, such as pitcher plants, can attract and eliminate all sorts of flying insects, including bees. Some also swear by essential oils as a natural form of insect repellent. Really, the best bet is to remove the things that might attract bees and wasps.
Removing stinging pests from inside a home, such as bees or wasps, is difficult and not recommended for homeowners to try on their own. It can be very difficult to find where the nest is actually located, as it may not be near the opening where you are seeing the insects flying in and out. In fact, wasps and bees can set up their nests deep inside interior walls, making structural adjustments necessary to even reach the nest to treat it. The nests can be in very hard-to-reach places that put you and your family in jeopardy of being stung from an active swarm of insects trying to protect their nests. Covering the opening of a nest located inside a wall with foam or some other poison has been known to cause the insects to chew their way through walls and end up inside the home and endangering family members.
Proper treatment of nests inside homes involves a professional who can determine exactly where the nest is. They will also make sure that your family and neighbors are safe and use the right equipment to protect themselves. They will also be armed with the right tools and methods to safely and effectively kill or remove the nest and prevent a return. If a nest of honey bees, for example, have set up a nest inside the walls of your home, they will likely build a honeycomb. If the bees are removed, but not the comb and honey, other pests could find their way inside the walls and cause a whole new problem. Honey inside walls will start to run and cause odors and discoloration.
Professional pest control experts will work with local beekeepers to deal with the possibility of honey bee infestations, as the entire hive should be removed alive if at all possible. For wasps and other pests, or if there is a real risk or threat to life, a professional in bee control will use tools such as a bee suit that will cover them from head to toe. They will wear netting over their heads to ensure they can see, but be protected from stings.
Pest control experts are also experienced in structural design and have been trained to look for the places where bees and wasps like to set up their nests. They will be able to track where the insects are entering and follow them to the nest.
Experienced professionals can use a variety of treatments based on the needs of your family and pets such a dusts and liquids that can eliminate a wasp’s nest effectively and completely. There may be follow up treatments to ensure that a nest is completely inert and the wasps are dead before the nest is removed. If even a few of the workers are not within the nest, they can return and build a new one. Professional stinging pest experts also use tools that ensure they can remove nests from outside structures without risking getting stung. Extendable tools such as a “bee pole” can be used to knock down nests that have been treated and remove them safely.
We can also treat homes and properties for crawling stinging pests such as scorpions and Red Imported Fire Ants. Contact us for more information today!
Any kind of professional pest removal service starts with a consultation with the home or property owner. To make sure that the right treatment is enacted, a professional will need to determine what the pest is and what needs to be done. Factors such as proximity to the people living or working there, neighbors and pets are also taken into consideration.
Once a treatment plan has been decided upon, the professional will make sure that family members, pets and neighbors are safe and then use various treatments to eliminate the nest or the pests. The exception to this is if there is a honeybee hive, which may require working with a local beekeeping cooperative or bee expert.
When the nest has been removed, your pest specialist will offer advice and counsel for making sure there is no return of the problem.
The same methods are used when dealing with crawling stingers such as scorpions and ants. The pest control expert will discuss the problem, find the right solution, remove the threat and ensure that methods are in place to prevent a return infestation. For all removals, follow-up treatments may be needed and your pest control expert will explain those needs when the time comes.
There are, especially when it comes to the removal of honeybees. Honeybees are vital to the environment and protected in many areas. All care should be taken to remove honey bees and most professional pest control companies will not remove honey bee hives or nests unless there is a real and imminent danger to someone on the property or inside the home.
At Western Exterminator we make sure to follow all local, state and federal laws regarding the removal of honeybees and the use of any and all chemicals to eliminate and treat any kind of stinging pest infestation.
If there are no allergy concerns, the best way to deal with pests like bees on the property is just to leave them alone. Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances, and if they become a threat to home and property, they can be removed. However, bees are beneficial to the environment and do not actively seek out people to sting. They will generally only sting if their nest it threatened. So, finding out where the hive is located is important and once found, that area should be avoided. The bees will go about their business and leave you alone.
This may not be the case if the nest is of Africanized Honey Bees, which are almost indistinguishable from regular honeybees. If you see increased bee activity on your property and are unsure of what kind of stinging pest you might have, it is best to get a professional consultation to determine what it is and what should be done. Africanized Honey Bees, wasps and hornets should be removed and an expert can find the safest and most effective ways of doing that.
Avoid the nests and do not disturb the insects and you will be left alone as we are not on the diets of any of the stinging pests. Even scorpions and Fire Ants are not actively seeking people to sting, but will do so to defend themselves.
Remember if you have any concerns about any stinging insects, call in the Western Exterminator experts who can help diagnose the problem, find the nests, remove the pests and then offer methods of prevention. Be sure to contact us and set up an appointment with one of our stinging pest experts.