The bees, wasps, and ants are the only insects that are truly able to "sting" people, and do so by the use of a modified ovipositor, which is normally used for laying eggs. Together with the ants, the bees and wasps they are in the order Hymenoptera.
Late summer is the time of year when populations of yellowjackets and other social wasps become large and noticeable. Yellowjackets build paper nests similar to hornets, but either in the ground, a log or landscape timber or building wall or attic. When nests are present around your home it creates a risk of being stung, and treatment is advised.
Often people will find they have some of these insects apparently taking up residence in their homes, businesses, or yards. Most people react with fear, though many times in is not necessarily. Some bees and wasps are far more aggressive than others and at different times of the year. If you find you have bees or wasps in your home, the first course of action is to determine exactly what type of wasp that you may have. The most common bees and wasps are as follows:
Bumble bees (not much of a threat)
Bumble bees are not very aggressive, nest anywhere they can feel protected, and are beneficial pollinators of both crops and wildflowers. These bees live in small colonies of hundreds, and can be quite gentle.
(they have a fuzzy abdomen) As the Do It Yourself Pest Control Person you are the one responsible for any Drift of Pesticide or contamination of waters in the area. So please read and follow the label very carefully.
Yellow jackets and other Wasps Do’s and Don’ts for the Do It Yourself Pest Control Person
- Do look before you sip your drink. Yellow jackets are attracted to sweet foods and drinks like soda and juices. (We've had a couple of consumers tell us of their experience taking a sip from their coke can, only to be stung in the mouth or throat by a yellow jacket. And that hurts)
- Do cover trash containers and keep them away from eating areas. Yellow jackets forage in garbage for food scraps and drink containers.
- Do wear heavy clothing when walking in wooded areas. Yellow jackets can sting through lightweight fabrics.
- Do try to remain calm in the presence of yellow jackets. Move slowly and deliberately and gently brush the yellow jacket away if it lands on you.
- Call a professional pest control operator to remove a yellow jacket nest. This is a dangerous task for an amateur.
- Don’t swat at yellow jackets. They are more likely to attack and sting when aggravated. Fast motion will draw them to you quicker.For the average person, 30 or more stings can be lethal without medical attention. Nests of some of these stinging insects can have thousands of individuals inside. For an allergic person, one sting can be lethal even with medical attention. If you have been stung and are not sure of your allergy status, please call your doctor. Every time someone gets a large number of stings and dies, or a similar situation happens that results in death and it becomes news. This is not news we like to hear.
- Don’t smash a yellow jacket. When crushed, they give off an alarm pheromone that can cause many others in the area to attack.
- Don’t wear perfume, scented hairspray or lotion, or brightly colored clothes if you are going outdoors. Yellow jackets are attracted to these things.
- Don’t let children play in overgrown or wooded areas. These are prime nesting sites for yellow jackets.
- Don’t use gasoline to eliminate yellow jackets. Gasoline should never be poured into underground nest holes or anywhere else.
- Don't throw anything at an aerial yellow jacket or hornet nest to knock it down!
For the most part, an encounter with one of these stinging insects, especially if they are alone, will not result in a sting. Here, the old saying "leave them alone and they will leave you alone" largely holds true. The wasps and bees listed above are mostly creatures that sting in defense of their homes. So unless you stumble across a wasp nest, you are highly unlikely to get stung. Just let them go about their business. The same goes for the paper wasps. The hornets and especially the yellow jackets can be more persistent and aggressive...and yellow jackets are notorious scavengers for our sweet human foods and drinks. Swatting at them won't help. Keeping your food sealed and limiting their exposure will.
Some people think that simply spraying a Nest could be easy and harmless. For some situations it might be that simple, but never without some risk. For some situations using a trap is the best solution. Yellow jacket traps used in the spring will capture many of the new queens before they start new colonies.
Finally, if you have a nest of these insects in your home or yard, you may need to have them removed. But perhaps you can find a way to live in peace. If not, we strongly recommend a professional exterminator. Stings can be dangerous, especially if you are part of the 1% or so of Americans who may be allergic. Contact your local exterminator if you feel you must take action.