Bees & Hornets: What To Know

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • July 28, 2013

What To Know About These Stinging Pests

Yellowjackets, wasps, hornets and bees are all called bees by the general public. Knowledge of the behavior of these pests is essential to their management; effective communication with frightened or, at best, fearful clients is an important skill technicians must develop. Nests of stinging pests are usually the target for control. Understanding nesting and the make-up of the colony is essential.

Stinging Pests

Honey Bees

Honey bees are considered to be beneficial insects because the pollination services they provide bring us many different food products. Honey bees and wasps taking up residence in and around homes are a problem – and can be a serious problem if people have allergic sensitivity to bee stings. For these people, stings can be a life or death matter.

Bald Face Hornet

Bald face hornet nest and bald face hornet – they are related to yellow jackets and are not true hornets size – .5 to .8 inches. Several yellowjackets make the aerial football-shaped paper nests, commonly called hornets nests. The Bald Faced Hornet is larger than the other yellowjackets and is black and white

European Hornet

The European Hornet is the largest and only true hornet in North America. The European hornet can fly at night and sting repeatedly in defense of its nest. European hornets normally are a woodland species which builds its nests in hollow trees. Sometimes, nests are found in attics, hollow walls, birdhouses, barns, and abandoned beehives in unprotected places.

Cow Killer or Velvet Ant

The Cow Killer or Velvet ant is not an ant, though it looks like a hairy one. It is actually a wasp with a severely ferocious sting that is said to be strong enough to kill cattle. Males have wings, females don’t but can sting. Female lays eggs in another bees or wasps nest. Adult size 1/2 to 1 inch.

Non-Stinging Pests

Cicada Killers

These solitary wasps rarely sting. They ambush cicadas, oftentimes in mid-air. Even their larvae eat cicadas. They form nests underground – and because these nests are on lawns they are sometimes considered a nuisance pest. – size 1.2 to 2 inches

Horntail wasps

Females appear to have 2 menacing stingers – but they are actually an ovipositor (for injecting their eggs into wood and a spine that aids in splitting the wood) size – .7 to 1.5 inches. These wasps are not aggressive and they will not sting unless pressed or handled.

Mud daubers

They place their mud nests in protected places such as electric motors, sheds, attics, against houses. They are solitary insects that paralyze spiders to provision mud cells built to enclose eggs, larvae, and pupae.

Carpenter bees

Males dart at intruders belligerently but they can do no harm-they have no stingers. Because these bees are not social, there is no worker caste to protect the nest. Stings by females are rare. Carpenter bees are solitary insects that live only one year. Carpenter bees bore in wood and make a long tunnel provisioned with pollen and eggs. They prefer to enter unpainted wood and commonly tunnel in redwood and unpainted deck timbers.

Miner or digger bees

Mining bees, or digger bees, nest in burrows in the ground. They are about the same size as honey bees. Unlike the honey bee, mining bees are “solitary” bees. Mining bees are not aggressive and seldom, if ever, sting. The presence of numerous bees flying close to the ground, however, may constitute a nuisance for some people. It must be stressed that mining bees are extremely beneficial insects, of considerable importance in the pollination of many different types of plants. Their burrowing does not harm vegetation and may actually be of service in aerating the soil.

If you’re having issues with any of these pests, check out our pest control services. Schedule your free inspection today!

To learn more about common NC and SC pest intruders, signs of them, how to prevent and treat them, download our Pest Encyclopedia!

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