Wasps & Stinging Insects


Solitary – These bees live as mating pairs. There are two bees per nest (king and queen)
Colony – These bees have great numbers of workers and usually only one queen

Bees and wasps tend to fly in straight lines. If you are where you cannot get indoors and you are being stung you should run to a place where the bees cannot see you from the entrance of their nest. Get behind a car, a tree, the other side of a shed. If you experience a raspy throat, coughing or wheezing after being stung – seek immediate medical attention.

Q: Why can’t you treat my home for wasps right now? They’re all over the place

IN THE EARLY SPRING: Basically we are trying to avoid a respray (which saves you money). If you wait until roughly mid-May the chances of a respray drop since the life of the chemicals is 60 to 90 days. Also, the wasp nests-building season does not start until around mid-May. We like to wait until the nights are consistently warm.
IN THE FALL: You are having the fall phenomenon – lots of wasps flying all over the sunny areas of the house – usually in October. The reason – when it is sunny out, the side and roof of your house are warmer than the surrounding air temperature. By the way, on the cloudy days you will not see the wasps. The fall phenomenon cannot be stopped; we can stop the building of nests only. Also, this is Michigan; wait another month the temperature will drop the wasps will die or leave.

NOTE: Killer Bees are not found in Michigan.

BROWN WASPS (named because they are dark brown) are one of 2 types of wasps that live in Michigan; they live under eaves and in sheds, under decks and deck railings, occasionally behind shutters. Usually sting only when irritated or brushed away. Their single-layer, open-cell nest does not have a paper covering.

EUROPEAN WASPS are one of 2 types of wasps that live in Michigan; they live where brown wasps do, plus in bushes, on large flower-stalks, inside metal railings, inside eaves and even behind external car mirrors. Their nests can be larger, their breeding season longer, and they are much more aggressive than brown wasps. They are dark brown with yellow stripes. Two easy ways to distinguish European wasps from Yellow jackets… European wasps fly like wasps, with their long back legs dangling below them and their nests have open cells and no paper-like covering.

HONEY BEES: Length about ½ – 5/8”. The color of this colony insect is usually orangish-brown with pale hairs giving it a “soft” look. This insect can sting only once because the stinger has a barb and stays in the skin. Remove stinger by scraping with a credit card. Apply meat tenderizer to spot to stop the pain, swelling and itching. If possible, have a bee-keeper save the colony.

MUD DAUBERS: Adults are ½ to 1” long, slender. Color usually black or blue and may have a metallic luster. These solitary wasps often build several long tubes of mud in which they have laid their eggs. They seldom sting and feed on spiders.

BUMBLE BEES: Big bodied (1/4 – 1” long), black with yellow (or orange), “fuzzy”, colony bees which make their nests in the ground, or any hidden area. They like to make “fuzzy” nests out of leaves, grass, and/or insulation.

CARPENTER BEES: Generally larger than Bumble Bees (1/2 – 1”), fuzzy only on upper body. These solitary bees bore into soft woods like cedar or pine. The male has no stinger, but will “buzz” you. Don’t mess with the hole…

YELLOWJACKETS: (3/8 – 5/8”) Their abdomens are banded with yellow and black. Their colonies can be in the ground, a log, in the siding of a house, or hanging from a tree. The nests have shades of gray, brown, and cream. Colonies can have up to 4000 workers. They are aggressive and do not like lawnmowers or loud music.

BALDFACED HORNETS: (5/8 – ¾”) These colony insects are black and white stripped with a white markings on head and body. They have aerial nests in trees and under eaves which are shades of gray…but don’t get close enough to see that until they are dead. They are very aggressive and have very painful stings.

“PRAIRIE” BEES: These small bees (1/8 – ¾”) are fairly non-aggressive. These solitary bees nest in the soil. Usually they dark-colored and are hairless or have hairs only on the upper bodies. They hover or fly close to the ground. There may be hundreds of holes in a small area (usually where there is no or sparse ground-cover). They have short, weak stingers and carry very little venom. Unless you are allergic to bee stings you may not want to eradicate them. The best solution is to sod or re-seed the area, remove some of the shade, etc. so that they will not find your yard as inviting next year.

CICADA KILLERS: Extremely large bodied (1 – 1 5/8” long), ground-dwelling, solitary bees. They are black to rusty with 3 yellowish markings on their abdomens. Their nests often have a “ramp” of excavated soil leading to the hole. Because of their size and the amount of venom in their stings, it is recommended that you seek professional help in eradicating them.

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