Although bees and wasps may be feared by many, they are a very helpful group of insects. They are responsible for pollinating flowering plants and reducing the number of many insect pest species. They are primarily feared because of the fact they can sting; however, when there is an immediate threat to people, pets or your peace-of-mind you should have these threats treated by a pest control professional.
Carpenter bees are a solitary species of stinging insect. They look very similar to bumble bees. Carpenter bee abdomens are black, smooth, and shiny. Bumble bees, on the other hand, have hairy, yellow abdomens. Carpenter bees get their name from boring holes into wood creating galleries for raising their young.
Are Carpenter Bees Dangerous?
The carpenter bee closely resembles the bumble bee, but with their top abdomen surface mostly bare and shiny. They are not considered social insects and do not live in colonies or nests and begin appearing in the spring. Male carpenter bees are most likely to be territorial and will become aggressive when humans are around. They will hover a short distance in front of your face or buzz around your head. It’s worth noting that males have no stinger, so these actions are merely for show. However, the female does have a potent sting which is seldom used.
Carpenter Bee Habitat
During the spring, people often notice large, black bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are likely to be carpenter bees, named for their habit of excavating holes in wood in order to rear their young. Carpenter bees prefer unpainted, weathered wood, especially softer varieties such as redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. Painted or pressure-treated wood is much less susceptible to attack. Common carpenter bee nesting sites include eaves, rafters, fascia boards, siding, wooden shake roofs, decks and outdoor furniture.
Honey bees get their name from the sweet yellow to brown fluid they make from the nectar of flowers and their use of food. They are known for producing honey, but are even more important as pollinators. They do have the ability to sting although not as aggressively as the yellowjacket. Honey bees can be recognized by their orangish brown to sometimes black rear abdomen that is banded with orange and brown or brown and black. Their body is mostly covered with branched, pale hairs, mostly on the thorax.
Are Honey Bees Dangerous?
Honey bees are not aggressive and do not seek out something to attack; however, they are defensive and will attack anything that is threatening the colony. Worker bees have barbed stingers and when used, the stinger, poison sac, and associated tissue are torn from the body. If the stinger is not removed immediately, muscle contractions will drive the stinger deeper and deeper into the skin and there is a greater time for toxin injection. It’s also important to note that the stinger gives off a pheromone which attracts other bees and induces an alarm and attack behavior. It is dangerous to approach a colony, hive or swarm of honey bees or to be within 100 feet of them.
Honey Bee Habitat
Honey bees can thrive in natural or domesticated environments, though they prefer to live in gardens, woodlands, orchards, meadows and other areas where flowering plants are abundant. Within their natural habitat, honey bees build nests inside tree cavities and under edges of objects to hide themselves from predators
Southern Yellowjacket workers are about 1/2 inch long with clear wings. The body is black with yellow characteristic markings on the head, thorax and abdomen with a body that is not hairy. Colonies, constructed out of chewed vegetable fiber that forms paper carton, occur in disturbed habitats such as yards and roadsides. Nests are most often underground, but occasionally are found in wall voids and indoors.
Are Southern Yellowjackets Dangerous?
Notorious for its aggressive nature and tendency to sting, Southern Yellowjackets are best given wide berth and left alone. They guard their nests with ferocity and will not hesitate to sting anything that threatens or gets close to it. They can, and do, sting multiple times without dying. If a nest or colony is found in areas where people pass like a backyard, park, trail, or building, professional exterminators should be employed to remove them. Attempting to remove a Southern Yellowjacket nest without the proper protection and equipment could be quite painful for anyone in the vicinity.
Southern Yellowjacket Habitat
A single queen establishes a colony in the spring time. She emerges and either builds a burrow in the ground, moves into established hollows or building cracks, or she enters the nest of a weaker Yellowjacket species, killing its queen and commandeering the workers on her behalf. The Southern Yellowjacket activity declines around thanksgiving through the winter. Only the queen will survive a cold winter while all the others in the nest will die. Areas in the South that have mild winters my see Southern Yellowjacket activity all year.
Bald Faced Hornet
Baldfaced hornets are large, black-and-white yellowjackets that get their baldfaced name for their largely black color and mostly white face and hornet because of its large size and aerial nest. They are found throughout the United States and are the only knowns species of Hornets found in Texas. Along with the black and white pattern on most of its face, the baldfaced hornet has 2 angled stripes on its thorax towards its head and on its last 3 abdominal segments.
Are Bald Faced Hornets Dangerous?
Like the Southern Yellowjacket, the Bald Faced Hornet will aggressively protect what it considers to be its territory. They are also easily upset by loud noises such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers. They will not hesitate to sting anything they feel threatened by and should be given a wide berth when spotted.
Bald Faced Hornet Habitat
Bald faced hornets are social insects living in aerial nests and usually appear in the late summer. Their nest can contain 100-400 workers at its peak. Their nest can be found in shrubs, ground-level vines, or up high in trees. Nests can also be found along overhangs, utility poles, houses, sheds, or other structures. They are almost always constructed in exposed locations.
Paper wasps get their name from the paper like material of which they build their nests and are very common in the Houston area. Paper wasps are typically brownish in color with yellow markings. Paper wasps can be yellow with black striping or brown to reddish brown.
Are Paper Wasps Dangerous?
Normally, they are not considered aggressive, but are nuisance pest. They will defend their nest if it is threatened or disturbed in any way. Like the Hornets and Yellowjackets they can sting more than once. People most often get stung when they unknowingly disturb the nest when trimming bushes, picking fruit from trees or working around the outside of the house.
Paper Wasp Habitat
Paper wasps are semi-social, existing in colonies, but without a worker caste. Their nests consist of a single layer of paper-like comb with the cells opening downward. You can usually find this comb suspended from a branch, twig, or horizontal surface by a single long stalk which aids in the defense of the nest by predators such as ants. Nests are small to moderate in size containing up to 150-250 cells. Paper wasps also tend to hang their comb nests from porch ceilings, tops of window and door frames, soffits, eaves, attic rafters, deck floor joists and railings, etc. These insects are beneficial for helping to control many insect pests but when located near any human activity they do pose a threat.
Mud daubers are one of the several insects you can see buzzing around your house, but there are some key identification characteristics that can distinguish them from the other wasps you may find. Mud daubers are about ¾ to 1 inch in length and can vary in coloration between species: many are entirely black, but others can be black with yellow markings or even be an iridescent blue-black color. One major identifying feature is that mud daubers have a long, narrow “waist” (also called a petiole) that connects the thorax to the abdomen.
Are Mud Daubers Dangerous?
Mud Daubers are not considered to be aggressive and unlike the hornets and Yellowjackets they do not seek a battle with you. Mud Daubers can sting if threatened or handled and the bite will resemble a normal insect sting.
Mud Dauber Habitat
Mud daubers are solitary insects, meaning each nest only has one wasp that is responsible for all the necessary tasks. The nests are constructed from mud by a single mated female and they can vary in shape, from pipe-shaped to globular. These nests can be found under eaves, in garages, or any protected area. Mud dauber nests are usually considered unsightly nuisances on human buildings. However, before you eradicate your mud dauber nests, remember that these relatively harmless insects comb the environment for spiders, including black widows!!
If you have a stinging insect problem in your home or place of business we strongly recommend contacting a professional pest control company such as Grand Slam Pest Control. We do NOT advise attempting to utilize DIY chemical application as these chemicals can cause environmental damage and/or health issues if not utilized properly.