Get the Buzz on Stinging Insects
Avoid the Sting
Are you a swatter or a cringer? Flying yellow insects buzzing around our heads usually make even the most stoic of us react in one way or another. It’s a rare person who doesn’t flinch, squat or contort their body to avoid contact.
Don’t let your fear of being stung rule you — most of those flying nuisances are harmless, only stinging when their colonies are threatened.
Keep yourself stinger-free by knowing which flying insects pose the biggest threat and how to avoid getting stung.
Honey bees are nature’s insect gardeners — small, hairy, honey-colored insects that pollinate more than half of all fruit and vegetable crops and prey on other pests which are harmful to those crops. Honey bees get their sustenance from pollen and nectar and in return, they contribute greatly to our own food supply.
Not generally concerned with inflicting stings, they have been known to do so when provoked or threatened but overall, they don’t have a lot of motivation for stinging. The honey bee’s stinger is barbed and the act of stinging leaves their poison sac imbedded in their victim and the bee dies as a result.
In addition, honey bee hives located in wall voids can cause lots of damage associated with staining of interior walls.
The carpenter bee is more interested in its own business than bothering with human beings. The males do not have stingers while the females do, and these bees can often be found within weathered-down wood.
They get their name from their habit of constructing tunnels into wood for a nesting gallery. It is also worth noting that the males are constantly buzzing and aggressive, so if you hear a loud noise and see the insect acting menacingly, it is likely a male who is incapable of stinging.
While, carpenter bees pose virtually no threat of stinging, they can cause damage to the wooden parts of your house, deck, fence, etc. If you refrain from swatting or prodding them, they should leave you alone.
In the worst cases, carpenter bees can cause considerable damage. Left untreated, subsequent generations may also return to the same nesting sites, meaning the problem can grow in scale over time.
Bumble bees are recognized by their black and yellow banded body hairs, although some may be orange, red or even solid black. They appear fuzzy and soft as a result of their hair (called pile), but can be differentiated from honeybees by a bare area on their hind legs used to transport pollen.
Bumble bees also help to pollinate crops and gardens, but live at higher altitudes and in smaller colonies than honey bees.
They are not aggressive stingers but can sting repeatedly if provoked, as their stingers are not barbed and remain intact after stinging.
Yellow jackets are familiar to most people and are easily recognized by their narrow waists and bright yellow abdomens with black stripes.
These are social insects, residing in colonies, so if there is one there are more. You may notice nests in trees or cracks/openings throughout the home.
Often confused with bees, they are known to be aggressive and sting more people than any other type of wasp or bee. Yellow jackets feed on other insects and are most aggressive in late summer when their food supply begins to dwindle. You are most likely to encounter them scavenging around garbage cans and picnic food.
Yellow jackets suffer no adverse effects to themselves after having stung once. Unlike honey bees, yellow jackets can sting repeatedly without any adverse affect to themselves, as their stingers remain intact after stinging.
Paper wasps derive their name from their hives, which are constructed from dead wood fibers, plant stems and saliva, and look as if they are made from grey paper.
They are not aggressive like yellow jackets, but are certainly capable of stinging when provoked and can produce painful stings.
Their appearance is distinct from yellow jackets, as they are primarily dark brown with yellow markings on their heads and thorax.
Black and white in color, hornets are built more sturdily than most wasps, and rarely sting unless seriously disturbed – and even then, it is a rare occurrence.
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For most people, the discomfort disappears in a matter of hours and can be treated with topical lotions, antiseptic and oral antihistamines.
When to Treat
It’s no secret that stinging insects get a bit rowdy when disturbed, which makes an understanding of their biology and behaviors essential to safe stinging insect and bee control.
Obviously, those with bee allergies must be especially careful, as a bee sting can be a dangerous situation. And no one – allergic or otherwise – wants to be stung!
Froio explains that stinging insects get very irritated when awake, which means it’s wise to avoid bee control attempts when the sun is out:
“During the day, stinging insects forage for food, but they have a short temper when it’s hot and sunny, Unfortunately, this is when homeowners most often attempt DIY bee control. It’s better to do bee control work early in the morning or at dusk, when these insects are more docile”
Consult the Experts
Western understands the importance of honey bees to the environment as a whole and attacks all bee problems in an environmentally sensitive manner, with a limited use of pest control materials.
Removal is done with the help of a bee keeper rather than an exterminator to ensure the bees’ safe and effective removal from your property.
Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.
Call for service: (877) 250-3857