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Stinging Pests:
Who, What, Where & Why

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Who are we dealing with?

If it flies and has any semblance of a stinger (or even stripes), it is typically labeled as a bee by the general populations. Understanding who these flying friends/foes are is key to knowing what to do about them.

Good Guys – Honey Bees. These are beneficial insects that are helpful to crops, flowers, and plants in general. They produce honey and are responsible for the successful production of produce at the stores. These are not aggressive stinging types, but will only play defense.
Cosmetic pests – These include several species of thread wasps or mud daubers. They build unsightly nests and look freakishly horrifying, but they are only likely to sting if they are handled or feel attacked without a way to escape.

The aggressors – Wasps hornets and yellow jackets are all closely related.

A Glimpse Into Stinging Pests

Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets belong to the insect order Hymenoptera and are stinging insects. Many of these stinging insects are social and live in colonies with a caste system (division of labor). Wasps start new colonies each year unlike honeybees which have overlapping generations.

The common paper wasp builds single-comb, umbrella-shaped nests out of paper-like material which is a mixture of finely chewed plant fibers and wood fragments (cellulose) and salivary secretions. From spring moving forward, queens lay the eggs and the female workers feed the larvae and expand the nest. The workers gather protein to feed the nest, but they find their own sustenance in flower nectar.

This social wasp constructs nests of a paper-like material which is a mixture of finely chewed wood fragments and salivary secretions. Paper wasps typically build their umbrella-shaped nests under eaves and ledges. These wasps are not as aggressive as hornets or yellow jackets.

What happens if you get stung?

Most stings include a puncture to the skin are likely to be painful, cause redness, induce a burning sensation or itchiness, and may include minor swelling. Odds are that roughly 1 in 10 people after a sting will develop large local reactions that include more widespread symptoms that may last for several days and should subside within about a week. 3 out of 100 people stung display severe allergic reactions that can be life threatening such as anaphylactic shock. Symptoms of severe reactions may include one or more of the following:
• severe swelling of the face, lips, or throat
• hives or itching in areas of the body not affected by the sting
• breathing difficulties, such as wheezing
• dizziness
• sudden drop in blood pressure
• lightheadedness
• loss of consciousness
• nausea or vomiting
• diarrhea
• stomach cramps
• weak or racing pulse

What happens if you get stung?

Each type of stinging insect is found throughout the united states. Though the specific species will vary, there is no hiding from them by evacuating to another state. The trick is to know where in your yard you may find them.

• Honey Bees need hives to thrive.
• Mud daubers will be stuck to exterior walls, garage walls, attic walls, and any other protected flat surface.
• Paper wasps will find overhanging protections such as eaves, decks, porch overhangs, and playlets to hide their paper mache nests that would otherwise be decimated by a decent rainfall.
• Hornets are most likely going to shack up in a large nest they build and enclose on a tree branch, but they may venture into available voids around the home.
• Yellow jackets will build large underground nests, nests on walls, in attics, in voids, and will even venture into voids  in campers and around care engines.

When Are Stinging Pests Active?

The winter is only likely to turn up lethargic wasps that are camping out through the winter in your wall voids. Warm days or central heating may wake them up enough to think spring is coming and cause them to wander around.

Spring time is building and expansion time. You are likely to encounter them in fewer numbers as they determinedly search out building materials and food for their brood.

Summer time brings populations in full force. They will be hungry and will join you for picnics, barbecues, and lovely strolls around the yard.

Fall brings out the stressed populations. Continued population expansion and cooling evening temperatures put them into hyper mode. Paper wasps may swarm homes in search for protection. Yellow jackets may deviate from the steady flow of flying and swarm hints of food ranging from dog food to garbage.

Why We Eliminate Stinging Pest

The good guys – Bees-The only time it makes sense to eliminate the honey bee from a location is if they swarm. A large swarm of bees may occur on a home, but is most likely to occur in a tree. These swarms usually go away after a day or two as it is just a bunch of bees following a female that is resting on her way to set up a hive. If they continue or rest in an area disrupting life too much, they may be trapped and safely removed.

The cosmetic offenders-While these are not a threat to human safety, their nests can accumulate and start to disfigure entry ways, garage walls, attics, and other places on the walls.

Stinging Pest Control - Wasps, Hornets, Bees, Etc.

Stinging Pest Control - Wasps, Hornets, Bees, Etc.

Keeping their populations under control will make fewer nests cemented onto the home that have to be removed. Even though they are not likely to sting, those with anaphylactic responses (high allergies to stings) may be wise to establish a control program to minimize the likelihood they accidentally corner one and cause it to feel threatened.

The aggressors – Not only are these the group of wasps that are aggressive and likely to attack for no apparent reason, they also have large numbers that provide scattered threats throughout a yard and around a home. Whether it is a handful of paper wasps or thousands of yellow jackets, they will stake a claim in your house or yard and wage full on war against you if you try to invade their space, harm their nest, eat their hamburger, or drink their coke – the same coke that just came out of your fridge.

The second layer of concern lies in the nests these stingers build. It is not just the concern of a large basketball sized nest in the tree, but the worry of a clandestine underground nest that will be uncovered as a lawnmower passes over it making thousands of yellow jackets believe it is world war 3. If yellow jackets decide a wall void is the best place to nest, the nest can cause moisture problems, bulges in the sheetrock or siding, or you may even  encounter the workers flying around your laundry or other parts of the home.

The general statistics. There are an estimated 1 million stings annually from wasps. Anywhere from 40 to 100 people may die on an annual basis from major reactions to stings.

If your Minnesota home is under attack from wasps or other stinging pests, call the experts at Rove: 651-967-7556. Our courteous pest control specialists from one of our 4 offices: St. PaulMinneapolisOakdale & Brooklyn Park will be able to assist.

Additional FAQs about Wasps:

The absolute safest is to have someone else take care of it, but beyond that, there are 3 parts to safely and effectively removing a wasp nest:
1) Wear a protective suit for the next 2 steps.
2) Eliminate the adult wasps from the nest. There are several products that are labeled for wasps. Selecting a dust, aerosol, water-based, or other product will depend on the type of nest, and situation.
3) Completely remove the nest. Oftentimes, part of the nest will be hidden underneath eaves or soffits, in a void, or underground.

Male wasps die after mating. Successfully mated female wasps overwinter in cracks, crevices, and voids that provide protection from predators and the elements to survive in a dormant state until spring brings an opportunity to feed again and rebuild the colony. Early warmups that trigger the overwintering queens to come out too early will often lead to starvation. The rest of the worker wasps and the founding queen die of starvation and/or exposure to winter weather.

Wasps can survive in water for several minutes before suffocating. Wasps do not have lungs. They take in air through pores called spiracles which pass air into their tubal system called tracheae.

If the wasps are just strays that accidentally ended up in the car, providing an exit through a window or door should be adequate. If wasps are nesting in the car, removal of the nest will be key in their removal. The nest will likely be hidden in a vent, between a door and the frame, or some other location that provides protection from weather and predators.

Badgers, black bears, geckos, raccoons, rats, skunks, weasels, and wolverines will attack a wasp nest to consume the larvae. Bats and many species of birds will feed on the adult wasps. Bee-eater birds squeeze and beat captured wasps against trees and branches to get rid of the venom. Invertebrates such as centipedes, mantids, robber flies, spiders, and even other wasps will feed on wasps. Plants such as pitcher plants and sundews prey on wasps.

In some cases, wasps will repair and rebuild the nest if it is not overly damaged. In other cases, they will rebuild on the same spot. In other cases, they will leave although this may not be very far. Wasps choose their location based off of protection, proximity to food, and availability of water. Rather than packing up and flying far away, they are more likely to find something close by that still has access to their food and water sources, but is better protected.

There are products that can be applied to common nesting sites that are designed to leave a residual that will kill invading wasps or dissuade them from nesting. It is also important to regularly inspect common nesting sites such as overhangs, decks, etc. It is much easier to remove a small, starter nest than a large, established nest.

This depends a lot on the timing and type of wasp. Some wasps species are solitary and others are social. Solitary, as the name implies, wasps tend to live independently of other wasps. They may have several nests close together that function independently. In social wasp situations, killing the queen early can eliminate the nest, but once the nest is established with workers to continue care of the developing wasps, it can continue.

Bees are quite different from wasps in a lot of ways. With honey bees, a dead queen means that no new workers are being produced, so it can weaken over time or quickly. In the absence of the queen, workers will find an egg to raise a successor.

Since wasps build their nests with protection in mind, they may relocate with sufficient harassment such as spraying with water, nest destruction, nest relocation, etc. Keep in mind, a wasp’s first instinct is to defend the nest. Once eggs have been laid in the nest, the nest will have to be destroyed before the wasps will go elsewhere.

If you catch the nest prior to eggs being laid, you can remove it and the wasps can rebuild it elsewhere. If the young are already developing in the combs, removal of the nest is possible, but reattachment elsewhere becomes an issue. The wasps cannot reattach it elsewhere and gluing it somewhere else makes it unlikely the wasps will continue to take care of it. Once the brood have left the nest in the late summer and fall, removal of the nest does not have an impact since the nests are not reused from year to year.

Some wasps are strictly predators which will kill other invertebrates that may or may not be considered pests. Other wasps rely on scavenging as well.

-Bees have feathered body hairs (setae) which make their bodies appear hairy. Wasps settee are not branched causing them to appear smooth. Wasps primarily eat protein such as spiders and other insects. Bees feed on pollen, nectar, and sometimes honey.

Reactions to wasps can range from no reaction to anaphylactic shock that results in death. Severe reactions have occurred in individuals who have never been stung before, not reacted before, and had reacted but not severely. If you are stung, you should wash the affected area with soap and water to remove as much venom as possible and minimize the chance of infection. Keeping the sting site clean and dry and covered with a bandage will further help reduce chances of infection. Applying a cold pack will help reduce swelling, pain, and irritation. If you experience anaphylaxis, seek emergency medical care. Consult your doctor to see if you should use a sting kit containing epinephrine.

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