Close up head on view of a wasp

Most Common Stinging Insects


wasp-close-up-imageWith many of us enjoying historic snow falls and below freezing temperatures this winter, we thought it would be good idea to look ahead to summer days and stinging insects. Summer can be a hectic time, packed with vacations and all sorts of outdoor activities.

Frequently we find ourselves going from one activity to the next whether it’s swimming, hiking or attending a barbeque at a friend’s house.  But despite the variability of our summertime schedules, there is one thing that we can count on to be consistent: the threat of stinging insects intertwined with most of our activities.  In fact, as we enjoy the summer months, stinging insect nests have grown quite large and the numbers of bees and wasps are almost at their peak.

There are several common species of stinging insects that we need to watch out for in the summer, including paper wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets.  Paper wasps build open and exposed nests that resemble upside down umbrellas, while hornets will typically build papery-covered nests that sit in trees.  Yellow jackets will also build nests with a papery covering, but their nests are typically located in walls or ground voids.  Each of these stinging insects can be quite aggressive when feeling threatened—which commonly happens when a person inadvertently walks past or gets too close to a nest. As the year progresses into late summer and early fall, yellow jackets are of particular concern.  Yellow jackets are in a frenzy during late summer and early fall, trying to gather as much food as possible for their hive.  This food is needed to help the newly produced queens survive the winter, while the rest of the hive members will die off with the first frost. Yellow jackets are very aggressive during this period as they scavenge for human foods (like soda, juices, candy, hot dogs, and hamburgers etc.), and they will readily sting any person who stands in their way.

Here is what you can do in order to avoid getting stung: 

  • Do not swat or run rapidly away from a yellow jacket buzzing around you, as quick movements can provoke an attack.  Instead, remain calm and motionless for a while, and then move slowly away from the area.
  • If you are at a picnic, all food and beverages should be covered until served, and keep your thumb over your soda can in between sips in order to avoid swallowing any.

We advise customers to not approach nests of stinging insects or to attempt to treat nests themselves.  Our pest control professionals are well-prepared for stinging insect control, possessing highly effective treatment materials, as well as the proper personal protective equipment to do the job safely.  Additionally, our technicians are trained on control methods specific to each type of stinging insect nest.

For more information on stinging insects, visit the Wasp & Bee Pest Guides on our website.

Feel free to post any questions you have regarding stinging insects in the comments section below.

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Dr. Nancy Troyano

Nancy Troyano, Training Manager / Entomologist at Rentokil North America, is responsible for leading and supporting the development and training of Rentokil technicians throughout North America. Nancy works closely with Technical Field Trainers and Line-of-Business Managers to develop and implement a comprehensive training program for new and existing technicians. Nancy joined Rentokil after receiving her PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 2009. Follow Nancy on Google+

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