How to Take the STING Out of Summer
WASPS & BEES
- Wear shoes, especially in grassy areas.
- Over-seed grassy areas to get better coverage, as this will deter ground-nesting insects.
- Remove garbage frequently and keep trashcans covered.
- Do not swat at a stinging insect as it increases the likelihood of an aggressive reaction.
- Avoid wearing sweet-smelling perfumes
- Ensure all doors and windows in your home have screens that are in good condition.
- Seek immediate medical attention if stung, as reactions can be severe.
- Do not attempt to remove a nest on your own. If you have an infestation, contact a qualified pest professional.
Keep the STING Out of Summer
Unlike honey bees, yellowjackets and other stinging wasps are capable of, and willing to, sting repeatedly and pursue perceived threats.
A Bumble Bee
A Honey Bee
A Carpenter Bee
A Bald Faced Hornet
Bees vs. Wasp In the summer months, backyard barbeques are often visited by uninvited stinging insects. Stinging insects send more than half a million people to emergency rooms each year and most of these stings are caused by wasps and hornets. Although capable of stinging, under normal circumstances, bees play a beneficial role in the backyard. The vast majority of stings that occur in North America are inflicted by social wasps or hornets. Social wasps and hornets live communally in nests that can range in size from small to extremely large.
When threatened or disturbed, these pests will respond aggressively to defend the nest with repeated stings to the offending party. Bumble bees and honey bees are often seen buzzing from one flower to the next in backyard gardens. Each plays an important role transferring pollen from one flower to the next. Without this important service, most of the fruit and vegetables that we rely on for food would be nonexistent. On a commercial scale, honey bees also provide products like honey and beeswax. Nevertheless, stings sometimes happen. If you are stung, remove the stinger with a fingernail or tweezers, ice the area and take an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary.
Yellow Jacket Wasps
The word yellowjacket is synonymous with pain and can be enough to make you squirm with the thought of discomfort. Summer is the time when these stinging insects increase in numbers in both rural and urban environments across North America. Yellowjacket queens mate in the fall and spend the winter months overwintering in a protected spot, often in structural voids. When they emerge in the spring, the queens begin building a nest where they will raise the first generation of their brood.
Once these wasps reach adulthood, they are ready to take on the responsibilities that come with being called a worker: expanding and fixing the nest, helping rear subsequent broods, foraging for food, and protecting the colony against external threats. Adult yellowjackets are pollinators, searching for nectar and other sweets, but they also collect proteinaceous food like beetle grubs, which they bring back to the hive and feed to the larvae. Foraging yellowjackets have also been reported to take human food when it’s outside so keep your eyes open! There are several species of yellowjackets but overall, they range in length from 1/2″ to 5/8″ and they have wings that are folded at rest and smoky-colored.
They have a fairly wide and rounded body that is slightly wider than the head capsule. If you get close enough to a yellowjacket you can see that they have long hairs on their head and a yellow ‘face.’ The pattern of yellow markings on the thorax and abdomen are useful in making species-level determinations. Yellowjacket nests are typically below ground, but some species will nest aerially. Aerial nesting yellowjackets make use of trees, attics, and other places that offer some confining spaces. The ground nests are particularly troubling because they can easily go unnoticed.
Children playing catch in the yard, or someone mowing a lawn may inadvertently disturb the nest and incur the unfortunate wrath of these stinging pests. Trust us, if you get too close to a yellowjacket nest, they will let you know! Unlike honey bees, yellowjackets and other stinging wasps are capable of, and willing to, sting repeatedly and pursue perceived threats. Don’t risk your health trying to treat or remove nests yourself; do the right thing and call JAPCO today to come and take care of it for you and your family.
Bald-faced Hornets (Wasps)
Don’t Get Chased by the Bald-Faced Hornet
Don’t be fooled by the name of the Bald-faced hornet it is not a true hornet it is a yellow jacket wasp. Have you ever seen a large gray wasp nest about the size of a football made of paper like material hanging down from a tree? These nests are often away from people. By the end of the summer these nests can be very large, similar in size for a basketball, and containing up to 700 workers. The paper-like nests are made from a paste she makes by chewing cellulose from rotted or weathered wood. Nests can survive winters; however, they are not re-used by a queen or colony.
The bald-faced hornet gets its name from the ivory-white markings on the face. The thorax, legs and abdomen also have white markings. The queen and her offspring range in size from 13 mm to 20 mm – the queen is usually the largest yellowjacket in the colony. Bald-faced Hornets wasps when they sting can really pack a punch. Especially when a whole colony is alarmed by would be invaders and starts coming after you! Do not attempt to remove these wasps and their nests yourself. We have the knowledge and experience, and the proper personal protective equipment to do this correctly and safely.
Keep in mind that bald-faced hornets are extremely protective of their nests and will sting repeatedly if disturbed. The main area of the body that bald faced hornets attack on humans is the facial area, thus making them very dangerous to have around. Please contact us, JAPCO is your pest professional experts, if you spot one of these nests forming in or around your home or yard. They can be quite a work of art and are sometimes attractive to naturalists to collect them as one of nature’s many beauties. If you look closely, however, you would see the owners of this home, the bald-faced hornet workers, flying back and forth as they look for food on a summer’s afternoon. Bald-faced hornet nests are recognizable, as are the hornets themselves.
Carpenter Bees Can Nest in Lawn Furniture, Fence Posts and Trees
This summer, you may have found yourself asking, “Where are those 1/2-inch diameter holes in my banister or under my eaves or in my lawn furniture coming from? And what are those big bees that are buzzing around? My kids are swatting them back and forth with tennis rackets! I’ve just noticed them this summer.” If it is May, June, or early July, a best bet is that you are seeing carpenter bees as they attempt to mate, and females build a nest by tunneling into wood to lay their eggs.
The adult carpenter bee, at first glance, looks very much like a bumblebee and the Carpenter Bees are often confused as such. It is large, about one inch long, has yellow hairs on its body, and the top side of the abdomen is black or blue black. It differs from a bumble bee in that the top of its abdomen (body) appears to be shiny, smooth and black. Like a bumblebee, carpenter bees help to pollinate flowers and are, therefore, at least in one aspect, beneficial. Of the two species of carpenter bees in Eastern United States only one causes structural damage. It is found all along the East Coast and west to Texas and Kansas. The lower section of the “face” is yellow on the male and black on the female. Two species can also attack structures in the West.
The “structural damage” you see is a nest, a tunnel in solid wood. From the exterior of the wood all you can see is an almost perfectly round hole, 1/2 inch in diameter. The entrance hole most commonly occurs on the lateral facing of a timber. Carpenter bees receive no nourishment from the wood. They use the wood as a nesting site only. To do this, they must build tunnels within the wood. As the female chews a hole in the wood, she throws away small chunks of wood, sometimes creating a coarse pile of sawdust. The initial tunnelling normally goes straight into the wood across the grain for 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches, and then makes a right angle turn. The nest itself can run in a vertical or horizontal plane, depending upon which way the grain of the wood runs.
The length of a tunnel inside the wood averages four to six inches but may range from a fraction of an inch (“false starts”) to six or even ten feet long. The latter is the result of several bees using the same nest. The bee can chew through the wood at the rate of about 1/2 inch per day. There is only one entrance to this nest, the small hole you see. Carpenter bee females will select their nest site one of three ways: build a new nest, select an old nest already finished or select an old nest and expand upon it. By far, the most common wood attacked is redwood, but carpenter Bees will also infest white pine, cedar and cypress.
The Western Mountain Carpenter Bee frequently nests in Douglas fir and fir trees. Outdoors, carpenter Bees can nest in telephone poles, fence posts, signs, water tanks, and wooden lawn furniture. Painted wood is less susceptible to attack than non painted or well-weathered wood. Once the bees are inside the wood, painting it will not stop the bees from subsequently emerging. Though rather large and fierce in appearance, the adult female can produce a painful sting, but seldom does. She usually must be handled before she can be provoked into stinging.
Adult male carpenter bees cannot sting, but they will often buzz near your head and act aggressively, especially if you approach the nest, and certainly can cause a bit of a fright. New infestations from bees at a later date can reoccur because re-infestation of the same piece of wood is a common occurrence. You can certainly help out by following the bees to determine where the entrance holes are located to find the nest.
The Honey Bee
Honey Bees may be various shades of yellow, black, brown, or orange, with the head, antennae, legs, and a portion of the abdomen being dark. The body is covered with light-colored hairs, thickest on top of the thorax. Worker bees are usually about 2/3 inch long. This is a social species with three adult castes: queens which lay eggs in each colony, drones which are the males, and workers who are sterile females. Individual colonies may have 20,000- 50,000 bees. In addition to feeding the larvae, workers also amass reserve supplies of honey, which can be used as food by all the members of the colony during periods of adverse conditions.
Unless the nest has been built in an unfavourable area, the colony can survive throughout the winter, so these bees are not limited to annual reestablishment of colonies. Honey bee nests consist of many wax cells constructed by the worker bees. As with yellow jackets and the nests of other social wasps, these masses of cells are called combs. While some of these cells are used to house the immature stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae), others serve as storage sites for honey. If honey bees become well established within the wall voids of a house, large amounts of wax and honey may collect within the wall. When the bees are active, the workers keep the air moving inside the nest by fanning with their wings, so the temperature remains below the melting point of the wax.
The Bumble Bee
Bumble Bees are social insects that generally nest underground. They do not make holes or tunnels in wood but will nest in abandoned mouse burrows under piles of grass clippings or leaves, stones, logs, or other such locations. Bumblebees are robust and hairy, average about 1.5 to 2.5 cm (about 0.6 to 1 inch) in length. The queen lays her eggs in the nest after spending the winter in hibernation. The first brood generally develops into four to eight worker bees. Shortly after emerging as adults these workers take over from the queen the duties of collecting pollen and caring for the hive.
The queen then retires to a life of egg laying. For a while only worker progeny are produced, and the colony grows until it contains 50 to 600 bees. In late summer, with the large population of workers bringing in abundant food, males and new queens are produced. Although some males develop from unfertilized eggs laid by the queen, most hatch from eggs laid by workers.
In early fall the queen stops laying eggs, and the colony, including the queen, gradually dies out. During this period the larvae of certain moths and beetles prey on the remaining eggs and larvae in the nest. They seldom become a problem of consequence except in situations where the nests are established close to a sidewalk, near a building foundation, or in some other location where conflict with people or pets in inevitable. Whenever the nest area is threatened, bumble bees will attack and sting the intruder as a defensive reaction.
Bees are Beneficial
Bees are important to our planet. This Blog shows in detail the difference between wasps and bee species. We have included a direct link to local bee keepers. If you are suspect that you have a bee problem JAPCO Pest Control urges you to contact your local bee keeper in the area for their safe removal and relocation.
The Alberta Bee Keepers Commission
The Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission