Common types of stinging insects in Washington
Stinging insects are beneficial to the environment because of their ability to pollinate flowers, crops and other plants; they are also considered to be beneficial because predatory species hunt and feed on nuisance insects- keeping their populations down. Stinging insects, despite their benefits can become a huge problem for homeowners when they create their nests on, in or near their home. The most common species of stinging insects found in our area of Washington include yellow jackets, European paper wasps, and bald faced hornets.
Bald Faced Hornet
A large stinging insect, bald faced hornets are not actually hornets. They are relatives of yellow jackets and paper wasps and have long, think wasp-like bodies. Their bodies are black and they have an off-white pattern covering most of their faces.
European Paper Wasp
These wasps are semi-social and live together in small colonies. While they grow up to ¾ of an inch in length, paper wasps in Washington state can be distinguished from stockier yellow jackets by their slender bodies.
Western Yellow Jacket
Very social insects, yellow jackets live together in large colonies with thousands of members. Workers may appear in combinations of yellow and black and white in black, they grow to about ½ inch in length.
Why do I have a problem with stinging insects?
Properties with lots of flowering vegetation, unsecured garbage cans, gardens, compost piles, and areas of standing water often attract stinging insects because they provide ample food and water sources. The big problem with stinging insects is that they create their nests in a wide variety of places- some of those places being in close proximity to people.
Where do stinging insects nest?
Where a stinging insect colony creates their nesting site depends greatly on their species. Yellow jackets nest in a variety of places like inside of tree cavities, in tree stumps, in the ground inside of holes dug out by other animals, under roof eaves or inside in attic spaces or behind walls voids.
European paper wasps prefer to create their unique upside-down umbrella shaped nests inside of small spaces, secure places like on the inside of pipes and gutters, inside of closed grills, in large bells, in electrical boxes and in the hollow spaces found behind walls. They also commonly build their nests underneath of roof overhangs and underneath of porches and decks.
Bald faced hornets like to place their nest up off of the ground in or on trees, utility poles, underneath of porches or decks, under roof eaves, in attics, on chimneys, and behind wall voids.
Are stinging insects dangerous?
Wasps have the potential to be very dangerous. Unlike honey bees who can only sting once, these stinging insects have the ability to sting their victim over and over again, repeatedly delivering painful stings and creating raised red welts. As if that wasn’t enough, their venom is strong enough to cause severe reactions in some people. Depending on the person the venom can cause a severe allergic reaction or even trigger an anaphylactic shock; if either occurs immediate medical attention should be sought.
How do I get rid of stinging insects?
If you have identified a stinging insect too close to your home (or even inside it), contact a pest control company that specializes in stinging insect control. At Prosite, our professionals have the tools, knowledge and experience to remove wasp nests in and around your home. For more information, please reach out.
How do I prevent problems with stinging insects?
To prevent problems with stinging insects on your property and inside of your home, we recommend:
- Filling in ground holes
- Not overplanting flowering vegetation on your property
- Removing trees stumps and fallen trees and filling in holes in the lawn
- Keeping tight fitting lids on all garbage cans
- Covering food and drinks when outside
- Sealing holes found along the roof line, along with any other openings found on your home’s exterior
- Replacing or repairing any door or window screens that are not completely intact
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