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Unlike bees, wasps are predatory creatures that feed on other insects. They are close cousins to bees, but are a separate and distinct species. Wasps are different in appearance and temperament. They tend to be very territorial and will defend their nests fiercely and at a much greater distance.
There are more than 30,000 species of wasp around the world but there are three types that are most commonly encountered by pest control professionals: hornets, paper wasps, and yellowjackets.
Click one of the species below to be taken to more information about it:
Bald faced hornets are found throughout the United States and usually appear in late summer. They resemble yellowjackets with their black bodies and predominantly white-patterned face. They build nests that are covered in a papery shell and are often found on trees, overhangs, and shrubs. Their nests are built at least three feet off the ground, however, they can be as high as 60 feet.
Like ants, hornets are social creatures. They will go after anyone or anything that enters their space. Hornets have smooth stingers that allow them to attack over and over again, and will sting repeatedly if they feel threatened.
Also known as the giant hornet, European hornets are mostly brown with yellow stripes and a pale face. They appear in late summer and build their nests in natural cavities like tree stumps, or in cavities within buildings. Unprotected nests are usually covered in a brown envelope made from chewed up, decayed wood. European hornets are typically not aggressive, but they can sting repeatedly. They prey on a variety of large insects like grasshoppers, flies, yellow jackets and honey bees. They also eat tree sap, fruit, and honeydew.
European and English wasps both have a bright yellow and black banded abdomen. The difference between the two is that the European Wasp has black dots in its yellow bands and on its face, but the English Wasp doesn’t. Both of these wasps prefer to build nests in sheltered locations such as lofts, garages, and wall cavities, with easy access to the outside. Outside they may nest in old rodent burrows, hollow trees, and bushes. European and English wasps feed on insects, nectar, and sweet foods. They are more aggressive than bees and will attack you if you disturb their nest. They will sting repeatedly if they feel threatened.
Paper wasps get their names from the umbrella-shaped paper nests they build. Their nests are found in the yards of residential homes hanging from twigs, branches, porch ceilings, and more. Paper wasps themselves are mostly brown with yellow markings while a few paper wasp species have red markings. They feed on nectar and other pests, including spiders, caterpillars, and flies.
Paper wasps likes living in sheltered places, which means they may look for nesting spots in or around your home where they’re not easy to detect. While the insects are mainly beneficial to the planet because they aid in pollination (similar to bees), they’re still bad news for their aggressive stinging habits.
Every year, a paper wasp colony starts as a single queen. Once she locates a good nesting spot, she’ll build a small comb nest in which to raise her first larvae. After the larvae mature, they begin to search for food, increase the size of the nest, and take care of the queen’s new young. Before you know it, the small nest on your property may grow into an out-of-control problem.
Yellowjackets are very common in the summer and fall. They feature a black and yellow banded abdomen and can be aggressive, but are a little slower to sting than other wasp species. However, they will sting repeatedly if they continue to feel threatened.
Yellowjackets build nests that are surrounded by a paper-like covering made from chewed cellulose. Their nests are mainly built in the ground, however they can also be in hollowed out trees, under eaves, in attics, and in wall voids. They feed on insects and sugary substances like flower nectar and fruits. Most homeowners find yellowjackets to be quite the pest, however their diet actually makes them integral to garden pest control.