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How to identify 5 common insect nests

The world of insects is generally a primitive place. Most insect species prefer to be alone. They may lay eggs, but they don’t tend to build nests and you’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of insects being good parents to their offspring.

However, there are a few social insect species out there. These types of insects, such as antswaspsbees and termites, build elaborate nests, often underground or hidden away, where they create chambers for eggs and the larvae. There is usually a queen whose sole duty is to start the nest and then live at the center of it, laying eggs while being tended to by workers.

These nests are usually found out in the wild, but there are times when they build nests in areas where there are homes and people. The tricky part is that some of these social insect species often defend their nests and unsuspecting people who stumble upon them are often stung or bitten.

Ehrlich Pest Control specialists are the experts in detecting insect nests and helping residents and property owners get rid of insect nests safely. If you have found an insect nest on your home or property, contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office.

Here are five of the most common insect nests. Discover what to look for and whether or not you have cause for concern if you see one on your property.

Wasp nest

Wasp nest

A wasp is a social insect that often builds very large, elaborate, nests in hidden places. Most of the time, this is out in the wild, such as hidden in the branches of trees or, with some species, underground. However, wasps will gladly build their nests in a nook or cranny around your home like beneath the roof eaves, windows, beneath porches or decks. Just about anywhere they can get a foothold.

Wasps belong to a scientific order that includes hornets and yellow jackets. Their nests are usually constructed of chewed plant substances which the worker wasps then mold into football or round-shaped nests that are enclosed save for one large hole or opening near the bottom. Of course, there are exceptions such as the paper wasp, which will build an open nest that reveals chambers of hidden eggs.

Wasp queens will start the nest and then usually overwinter while inseminated. They become active in the spring, start the nest, and then lay eggs. When the eggs hatch, the workers help expand the nest until it becomes much larger. There have been cases in which massive wasp nests were found in attics and extending into wall cavities.

Wasps are known to defend their nests fiercely. If someone stumbles across one or tries to remove one on their own, they can find themselves in a world of hurt as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of defenders will come and start stinging. Since wasps do not lose their stingers, a person can be stung multiple times by just one wasp.

Honey bees nests


It is actually pretty rare to run across a honey bee nest (or hive) on your own. Honey bees are very useful insects and they are kept by beekeepers for their honey. Their nests are often carefully monitored and cared for. However, when a nest gets too crowded, something called “swarming” can occur where a queen and some workers will leave a nest short on food and large on too many other insects and start a new nest.

Honey bee nests are generally not enclosed, and if you find one exposed under a picnic table or deck, you’ll likely see what appears to be a large ball of bees. The bees will be crawling all over each other and within the cluster will be the actual hive itself. The hive consists of a honeycomb, sometimes dripping with actual honey, that encloses the eggs, queen, larvae, and the rest of the nest.

Removing a honey bee’s nest is actually regulated by most local laws. Since honey bees are so crucial to the environment, it takes an expert to remove them. The best thing to do is stay away from the nest and call a pest control professional.

Carpenter bee nests

Carpenter bee

Finding an actual carpenter bee nest will likely be difficult. More than likely you’ll see the actual bees before you spot the nests. This is because carpenter bees don’t usually build large hives or nests like wasps or honey bees. Instead, they burrow into wood, creating tunnels and chambers in which to lay eggs and build their nests.

Carpenter bees are like very large bumblebees. They are solitary insects and the males don’t even have stingers. They buzz around, close to the hole where their nest is, often dive-bombing potential intruders in the hope their aggressive maneuvers will scare anyone away.

You will often find the large, perfectly round holes in the wood the carpenter bees have used to build their nests. Once the wood has been removed, you may open it up and find the tunnels dug into the wood, spreading out from the opening.

Ant nests

Ant nest

Ants are cousins of wasps. They build large nests, usually within the ground. Scientists have carefully dug up ant nests to find massive structures extending dozens of feet below ground. An ant nest usually consists of a number of chambers and tunnels, where food, eggs, larvae and other things are stored for use by the colony.

Most ants stay away from people, but nearly every species will send out scouts looking for food. If they find a good food source, such as your kitchen, they’ll lay down a chemical trail which will bring the rest of the workers to find more food to bring back to the nest.

The main concern is stumbling into an ant’s nest full of ants ready to defend themselves against any potential threat. Fire ants are notorious for this. Other species of ants found around homes and properties will bite while defending their nests. Normally, what you’ll see on the surface is a simple pile of dirt with ants crawling in and out of it.

Termite nests

Termite nest

Termites are one of the most damaging pests in the world. Termites require the cellulose from wood and other products to live and they chew up wooden structures to reach this substance. Termite mounds in the wild resemble a large mound of dirt where millions of termites exist together in a colony.

For some species of termites in North America, you’ll see mud tubes on the walls of your home or property leading to wood areas. The termites will be within, sheltered by the moist mud they create out of their own feces.

Drywood termites build their nests below ground and you may just see the damage done by the termites rather than spotting the nests. If you find floors warping, doors suddenly not closing properly, or find wooden structures literally crumbling in your hand, you could have a termite’s nest nearby and consequently, a termite infestation.

Ehrlich knows insect nests

It takes an expert to know where to look for insect nests. Since removing insect nests can be difficult and, in the case of honey bees, may require following strict local laws, it requires a highly trained expert to spot the insect nests and remove them properly.

Ehrlich Pest Control makes sure our specialists are trained to spot insect nests, wherever they may hide. We also make sure our specialists use safety measures to get rid of insect nests and infestations and offer solutions to prevent them from returning.

If you have spotted any of the insect nests listed above, or signs of any kind of pest infestation, contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office today.

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