Ah, summer! Time for picnics with family and friends – and a host of rude, uninvited yellow and black flying party-crashers. Nothing ruins barbecued chicken faster than having to share it with a threatening yellow jacket, wasp, or hornet. Your fight or flight instincts kick in. But be warned. If you do decide to swat at the aerial terror, you run the risk of making it more likely to attack. Worse yet, social wasps don’t work alone; reinforcements are usually nearby.
In life we take the good with the bad. In summer that means beautiful weather also brings out stinging insects: bees, hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets. The good news is that all of these creatures are helpful for the environment. They prey on a lot of insects that humans consider pests. So they’re actually on our side. The less than good news is that they are all well armed and capable of defending themselves aggressively if they perceive the need. Their stings hurt for hours or even days! Worse yet, if you’re allergic to those stings, life-threatening danger accompanies the pain. In fact, more than a half million people visit the ER for insect stings each year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Although wasps and hornets may seem antagonistic, it’s important to understand that they attack to defend themselves or their homes. Wasps tend to be very territorial. Mainly they’re buzzing around looking for the same things we are: food and housing. It’s only when that food is also your food, and when they build their houses too near your house that the trouble starts.
That’s where hornet, wasp, and yellow jacket control comes in.
Identifying Your Stinging Bug is the First Step to Pest Control
Hornets, paper wasps and yellow jackets are all wasps. While they are members of Hymenoptera – the same order as bees – bees and wasps are different in several ways. Bees are pollinators; wasps are predators that eat other insects. (Many are also attracted to sugar as well, including plant nectar and your soda.) Bees pack more poison in a sting, but can only sting once; honeybees die after they sting. Wasps can sting multiple times, and they are more aggressive than bees. Honeybees, famously, live in hives where they make honey. Wasps, who have no wax making producing glands, make paper-like nests, mud nests, or burrow in the ground or holes in wood.
Hornets and Yellow Jackets: Know the Difference
Hornets and yellow jackets are closely related and can be easily mistaken. Both have the thin waists known as wasp waists, both are aggressive predators, and both are social wasps that live in colonies that grow larger as summer progresses. Hornets are larger than yellow jackets, however, and their bodies are more reddish-brown cast. They live in paper-like nests that they build from saliva and wood fiber and attach in sheltered areas, such as trees, eaves, and attics. They will very aggressively defend their nests, creating a problem if they build too close to human activity. In Vancouver you may find both European and Baldfaced hornets, though the latter is actually a wasp more akin to yellow jackets.
You can identify yellow jackets by their bright yellow and black bodies; they are smaller than hornets. Although both wasps like protein and sugar, yellow jackets are active scavengers, so if it’s after your hotdog or soda it’s probably a yellow jacket. Unlike Hornets, yellow jackets live in burrows in the ground or holes in walls. They are easily provoked and will often attack in force if their nest is disturbed. Paper wasps closely resemble yellow jackets.
Late Summer and Early Fall Wasp Infestations
Only wasp queens hibernate through the winter and begin the lonely work of rebuilding the colony each spring. As more wasps proceed from larval to adult stage, the colonies grow quickly from a few to thousands of wasps. That’s why there are more problems and stings in late August through early fall. If you see lots of adult hornets, yellow jackets or other wasps around your house it may be time to call in a pest control professional.
How We Control or Eliminate Hornets, Wasps and Yellow Jackets
At Antworks, we use an integrated pest management approach to eliminating wasps. Since they are social insects, we deal with them similarly to how we deal with ants. First we’ll do a thorough inspection to determine which type of wasp infestation you have, as well as to discover where the nest or burrow is, if you don’t already know. We’ll do an assessment of your yard to remove any sources of food that may be attracting the wasps – fallen fruit or an improperly sealed trash can. We’ll also look for any ingresses into your house that the wasps may be using, and treat them. If necessary, we can remove nests, or eliminate any wasp nests within your walls, crawl spaces, basement or attic using a highly effective, one-time treatment that is easy on the environment.
Need to Get Rid of Hornets, Yellow Jackets, or Wasps? Call Us!
Wasps colonies are growing in August; they’ll be with us till the weather turns cool in fall. Call us today to have a wasp-free late summer and autumn: 855-268-9675 (855-ANTWORK).