A Guide To Wasps & Hornets
Wasps and Hornets play a crucial role in our ecosystem, but large populations of them can become annoying or even dangerous and require control to allow them to co-exist in peace together with humans.
The most commonly known paper wasps, such as Yellow Jackets and Bald Faced Hornets live together in nests with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. These colonies may number in the thousands, with the female workers performing all of the duties within the nest.
While many Wasps live in colonies there are some species that are solitary — living alone they do not have a colony. However, they do lay eggs, which are left alone to hatch.
Solitary Wasps rarely sting humans or cause any serious problems. Unlike social Wasps, solitary Wasps live their lives singularly. Mud Daubers have been known to construct their nests behind and on the siding of a home, but they are rarely a serious problem and do not sting. Cicada Killers dig burrows in the ground. Females capture Cicadas, paralyzing them with a sting. They have a fearsome appearance but won’t sting unless handled.
European and Bald Faced Hornets
In Maryland, you’ll find only one common type of Hornet: The European Hornet. The Bald Faced Hornet is actually a type of paper wasp and is more closely related to a Yellow Jacket.
The European Hornet invaded New York State in the 1840s. Since then, it has spread across most of the eastern United States and here into Maryland. You’ll recognize the European Hornet from its resemblance to the Yellow Jacket, but it is much larger, measuring up to 1.5 inches in length. These Hornets seek old, fallen trees for nesting which they hollow out; on occasion, they invade barns, outbuildings and home wall voids. They have a painful sting, and will readily defend their nest. European Hornets can often be a nuisance at night because they are attracted to light and will often bang into windows.
The Bald Faced Hornet usually builds suspended nests in trees and shrubs. You may encounter a Bald Faced Hornet nest unexpectedly while trimming branches in your yard. These Wasps hunt other insects including flies and yellow jackets in order to feed protein to their young.
Wasps Can Be Deadly
Dozens of people in the United States die each year from allergic reactions to these insects. If you develop hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, wheezing or other symptoms of an allergic reaction, you should seek medical attention immediately. Minor itching, pain, and localized swelling can be somewhat reduced with antihistamines and a cold compress.
Paper Wasps and Yellow Jackets
Paper Wasps, Bald Faced Hornets, and Yellow Jackets all construct nests of a paper-like material, which is a mixture of finely chewed wood fragments and salivary secretions. When it comes to nesting there isn’t a lack of potential sites — they are known to set up behind shutters, under deck rails, in grills, under lawn furniture, in light fixtures, and under eaves.
Wasps, Bald Faced Hornets, and Yellow Jackets are more dangerous and unpredictable than Honey Bees and should be treated with respect. Unlike Honey Bees, Wasps are often capable of stinging multiple times. And, while it is possible to remove nests on your own, they should be eliminated with great caution.
Hornet and Wasp Control
If nests are in areas that will have little to no human contact it is safe to leave them alone and they will die out in the winter. Be sure to seal up cracks and gaps in the foundation or walls of your home to prevent wasps from building nests or seeking winter shelter in those locations. If one or two strays do get in, you can utilize a shop vacuum to suck them up. However, yellow jacket nests can contain thousands of wasps and are often best left for professionals like Eco Care to eliminate.
Taking on hornets and wasps alone can be risky. At Eco Care Pest Management our technicians are trained to safely and effectively eliminate wasp, hornet, and bee nests. If you believe you have an infestation, call us at 410.465.3709 or fill out the form on our site for a free consultation.