Stinging Insects

What are stinging insects?

As their name describes, stinging insects are insects that use stingers to defend themselves when they feel threatened. When living and nesting outside and away from people, stinging insects are beneficial. They are responsible for pollinating a wide variety of plants and crops. Predatory species control populations of nuisance insects.

wasps on their nest outside a home in fallston

There are several species of stinging insects found living in the Baltimore Metropolitan area of Maryland.

Yellow jackets
Yellow jackets are a predatory species of stinging insect that feed on a variety of other insects. Yellow jackets have segmented, hairless bodies, and distinct, thin waists. When at rest, their wings fold laterally against their bodies. Yellow jacket faces and heads are a blend of black and yellow colors. Their bodies have a well-defined yellow and black striped pattern.

European hornets
European hornets are long and full-bodied. They are brown with yellow stripes on their abdomen. Their faces are pale in color. European hornets are the only true species of hornet found living in the United States.

Bald-faced hornets
Bald-faced hornets have long, thin, wasp-like bodies. Bald-faced hornets are black in color except for an off-white color pattern on their faces, at the end of their abdomen, and on their thorax.

Paper wasps
Paper wasps have pinched waists and long, thin legs that dangle below their bodies when flying. Their bodies are black or brown in color, and have yellow or orange markings. Their wings are grayish in color.

Mud daubers
Mud daubers are a large, solitary species of stinging insect. They range in color from black to metallic blue, depending on the exact species, and they may or may not have yellow or green markings.

Cicada killers
Cicada killers are a large species of wasp. Adults grow between two and three inches in length. Cicada killers range in color from black to rusty red, and they have yellow and black banding on their abdomen. Their heads are reddish-brown in color, and they have yellowish-tinted wings that are heavily veined.

Carpenter bees
Carpenter bees are large in size. Due to their size, these black and yellow bees are often mistaken as bumble bees. However, carpenter bees have smooth shiny, black abdomens, unlike bumble bees, whose abdomens are yellow and hairy.

Are stinging insects dangerous?

Stinging insects are a danger to people. While not all species of stinging insects are aggressive, they all have the ability to deliver painful, venom-filled stings as a means of defense. Their venom is powerful enough to trigger serious allergic reactions and anaphylaxis in some people, which requires immediate medical attention. Some species have smooth stingers, allowing them to sting over and over again, while others have barbed stingers, meaning they can only sting once.

Why do I have a stinging insect problem?

Stinging insects are nesting and feeding on your property because it is offering them the things they need to thrive. Stinging insects, depending on their exact species, feed on a variety of materials, including insects, proteins, nectar, sweets, and honeydew. Stinging insects are most active during the end of the summer and early fall. This is when their colonies are at peak numbers, and they spend a lot of time foraging for food to feed its members. Compost piles, garbage cans, gardens, flowering vegetation, untreated wooden structures, clogged gutters, outdoor eating areas, bird baths, and ponds are all attractive to stinging insects.

Where will I find stinging insects?

There are many places in Maryland for stinging insects to build nests. Where they choose to build their nest depends on their species:

  • Yellow jackets are typically ground-nesters though some will build above-ground nests on houses and buildings, or in bushes and trees with low-hanging limbs.

  • European hornets build their large paper nests in natural cavities, including their favorite spots inside hollow trees.

  • Bald-faced hornets create paper-like nests three feet or higher up off the ground.

  • Paper wasps are semi-social and live together in small colonies. They are often identified by the umbrella-shaped nests that they create from a paper-like material.

  • Mud daubers are a solitary species of stinging insect. They create their nests out of mud and other natural materials.

  • Carpenter bees are solitary. Females create their individual nests by drilling a hole the diameter of their bodies and tunneling inside older or untreated pieces of wood. They are commonly found nesting in wooden decks, fence rails, wooden trim, wooden furniture, overhangs, and window sills.

  • Cicada killers are solitary and do not live in nests. Females create underground burrows. They dig about twelve inches into the ground, creating individual cells to lay their eggs in. Cicada killers prefer to make their nests in lawns and in sandy areas.

Other common nesting spots for stinging insects include underneath porches, decks, and roof eaves. Inside, stinging insects create nests in attics, crawl spaces, chimneys, vents, and in outbuildings such as barns, sheds, and garages.

How do I get rid of stinging insects?

To eliminate potentially dangerous stinging insects from your home or property and prevent a re-infestation, partner with a knowledgeable professional. At Pest Czar, our local and experienced professionals can provide the comprehensive services needed to find and safely get rid of the stinging insects living in your home, outbuildings, or on your property. We can then prevent their return by implementing one of our GreenPro certified pest protection plans. For exceptional, eco-friendly stinging insect control services in the Baltimore Metro area of Maryland, give us a call at Pest Czar!

How can I prevent stinging insects in the future?

Preventing problems with stinging insects can be difficult. Here are several things you can do in and around your home to deter them:

  • Put into place a professional residential stinging insect pest control program from Pest Czar.

  • Place lids on all outdoor trash cans.

  • Keep outdoor eating areas cleaned up.

  • Remove water sources from around your property.

  • Fill in ground holes, remove fallen trees, and remove tree stumps.

  • Remove wood piles, rock piles, and other debris.

  • Trim tree limbs and flowering vegetation away from the exterior of your home.

  • Seal cracks and crevices in the foundation and exterior walls of your home.

  • Place a cap on your chimney.

  • Repair holes along the roofline and at roof intersections.

  • Keep outbuilding doors shut when not in use.

 

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