Stinging Pests

Paper Wasps

Size: ⅝” to ¾”

Image Attribution: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Description: These are the most common wasps that you see along eaves or in bushes. They are a brownish color with small yellow markings. They collect dead wood and plants, and chew the material into a paper to make their nests. The nests have small holes in them that they lay their eggs in. Paper wasps are extremely territorial, and will sting you if you get close to their nest.

As it gets cooler. Females looking to hibernate through the winter will often find ways into the soffits or chimneys. This can cause some a colony to breed inside the walls and work their way into the home.

Life Cycle: Paper wasps aren’t as social as other wasps or ants. Typically only a few wasps will be a part of each nest. Each nest allows for 150-250 eggs to be laid, although most cells won’t contain an egg. Wasps don’t reuse nests, but will often be attracted to pheromones of previous nests and make a nest right next to it, resulting in several different nests over the years.

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Hornets

Size: ⅝” to ¾”

Image Attribution: By Richard Bartz, Munich aka Makro Freak [CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

Description: Hornets have power in numbers. These black or yellow wasps are short, and stocky, and colonize similar to ants, and are one of the few types of stinging pests that live with their eggs. Their nests look like a grey pinata, and are often along the eaves or in a tree. The nests can get very big, sometimes bigger than a soccer ball. These are the most aggressive type of stinging insect, and will attack ruthlessly if they feel threatened.

Life Cycle: Hornet nests are similar to ant colonies. There are several queens and workers in each nest. The nest grows inside of a paper structure. Most colonies will contain several hundred workers and a couple thousand eggs will be laid each season.

mud-dauber

Mud Dauber

Size: ½” to 1”

Image Attribution: [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Description: These wasps look scary, as they are long and black, and sometimes have purple wings, but mud daubers are usually pretty docile. They make mud nests along homes or inside garages, looking as if someone took a pile of mud and threw it against the house. Some mud daubers make pipe nests, which look like a single pipe or a set of pipes. These nests aren’t where mud daubers live, but instead are incubators for their eggs. First these wasps sting a spider or other large insect, paralyzing it, then fly it up to the nest, lay eggs on it, then cover it with mud. When the eggs hatch, the larva will be able to slowly eat the now gooey spider, gain strength, and break out the mud nest like an alien looking butterfly.

Life Cycle: Being one of the least social wasp, mud daubers, typically lay several eggs inside of a mud nest, then they die before the winter. The eggs will typically not mature until the following spring.

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Carpenter Bees

Size: 1” to 1 ½”

Image Attribution: By Bob Peterson

Description: These look like big black bumblebees. They are not very aggressive, but similar to a carpenter ant, they make their nests inside of wood. Typically inside wooden eaves, or under deck railings. When they make their nest, they will make a perfect dime sized hole and drill straight into the wood, then drill sideways along the grain. That is where they lay their eggs. Carpenter bees can easily get out of hand and ruin a structure if not treated.

Life Cycle: Eggs mature to adults in about 7 weeks. The adult then makes a nest, mates, and dies shortly thereafter.

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Yellow Jacket

Size: ⅜” to ⅝”

Image Attribution: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Description: When you see a picture of a yellow and black wasp, you are probably looking at a yellow jacket. They are common around the world. Their nests are usually underground, but sometimes will make nests under decks or along eaves. When living underground, bodyguard yellow jackets protect the entrance to the colony to prevent intruding ants and other predators from entering.

Life Cycle: Colonies can be very big, with 2000-4000 workers active at any given time, with 1000-5000 eggs laid.