Have a problem with yellowjackets, bees, or wasps?
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 feared because of the fact they can sting someone; 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.
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.
Hornets are typically black and white to brownish-red in color. They prey on other insects and can become very aggressive when disturbed. The most common and only known species of hornet that people come into contact with in Texas is the bald-faced hornet.
Bald-faced hornets greatly resemble their yellowjacket relatives, with black bodies and a predominantly white-patterned face. They also have two slanted lines running from their midsection towards their head and on the latter part of their abdomen.
Bald-faced hornets are helpful in controlling many pest insect species, but if their nest is located close to the ground and near an occupied structure or recreational area, control becomes necessary.
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. Honey bees can be found worldwide with a couple of species most common in the United States. They do have the ability to sting although not as aggressively as the yellowjacket.
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. We never kill honey bees if there is an alternate form of removal available to us.
Paper wasps get their name from the paper like material of which they build their nests and are very common in the greater Houston area with various species found throughout the United States. Normally, they are not considered aggressive unless threatened but are nuisance pests. Paper wasps are typically brownish in color with yellow markings. Paper wasps can be yellow with black striping or brown to reddish brown.
Problems occur when shrubs and hedges are trimmed or fruit is being picked from trees. If you come in contact with a nest during one of these activities it is very likely that you will get stung. Paper wasps also like 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.
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, but their body is not hairy. Nests are most often underground, but occasionally are found in wall voids and indoors.
Yellowjackets are a particularly problematic pest in Houston because the mild winters allow colonies to survive and expand from year to year. Nests can grow to cover an area several feet wide and can contain thousands of individual insects. Because they nest in the ground the nest can be hard to spot until it is disturbed. Yellowjackets can produce a sting if threatened and one single Southern Yellowjacket can sting more than once, unlike bees that can only sting once.
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.
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!!