Bees, wasps and scorpions are dangerous because of their painful and potentially harmful stings.
Pest Control For Biting & Stinging Pests
Wasp nests and bee hives can be removed by professionals with protective gear. Insecticides are also used. Scorpion problems are usually treated chemically. Click here to learn more about other insects.
During the day locate the nest. Control should be done at night when most of the hornets are in the nest. Apply an appropriately labeled insecticide through the entrance hole of the nest. The nest should be removed, placed in a plastic garbage bag, and discarded so that no emerging pupae can cause problems.
If a hornet nest is built high in a tree, you may choose to simply wait until the colony dies out in late fall or early winter. The nest will slowly deteriorate from weather or from attack by hungry birds. If a nest is located where people may be stung or if the clients are hypersensitive to bee/wasp stings, then colony destruction may be appropriate. Here are some points to consider as you decide how to approach the problem:
Control is best achieved by applying a pesticide directly into the nest opening. This can be done at anytime of the day, but near dusk, most of the wasps are more likely to be inside the nest. Direct the pesticide into the nest opening and then move away from the area in case any of the wasps emerge from the nest. You may need to repeat the treatment on the following evening.
Long sleeved shirt and long pants should be worn when spraying to make the applicator feel more at ease.
If the nest is in a wall, it may be desirable to remove it after spraying to avoid attracting carpet beetles that can invade the home and attack garments made of wool, silk or fur.
Chemical control should be a last resort as worker populations are gone after a hard freeze or several frosts. There are literally hundreds of insecticide products in various formulations labeled for wasp and hornet control. Control of these social wasps, although not difficult, has its element of risk in being stung. It is essential that the paper envelope of the nest not be broken open during treatment or the irritated wasps will scatter in all directions, causing even greater problems.
For control of wasps and hornets that build aerial nests near windows, eaves, in trees, etc., insecticides are formulated in pressurized containers that emit a long, narrow stream of spray 15 to 20 feet. Wasp freeze or wasp stopper compounds, containing highly volatile solvents mixed with pyrethrins, or some of the newer pyrethroids, produce instant knockdown for wasps hit. By approaching a hornet nest, spraying in a sweeping motion, the area can be cleared of guards at the nest, followed by directing the spray stream into the entrance hole at the nest bottom to kill those inside. During the day, this technique does not alarm other hornets returning from the field. No other insecticide needs to be introduced into the nest since all adults present are killed and the immature stages (eggs and larvae) die from lack of care.
Following treatment, wait a day to ensure that the colony is destroyed, then scrape or knock down the nest. This will prevent secondary problems from carpet beetles, ants and other scavenging insects.
Pest Management Professionals will sometimes remove a hornet nest, which is attached to a branch by slipping a plastic garbage bag over the intact nest and clipping it at the point of attachment. This technique should be done at night with a wasp suit.
Yellow Jackets, Wasps, and Hornets
Wasps in this family are social Insects that take care of their young. Most wasps are solitary but others, like Yellow jackets and Hornets live in large colonies, consisting of one queen and many workers. Some of these wasps are dark brown but most are striped yellow and black insects. They nest in gray or tan, oval or irregular-shaped, papery nests in trees and under house eaves or even in the ground. Some move into the house. Most are beneficial as they kill many pest insects around the yard, but may become pests when colonies grow in size and workers invade people’s habitat looking for food. When agitated they can render a painful sting.
Unlike bees, the poison of wasps and hornets is not intended for use against vertebrates (like us). Bees are nectar-collecting animals, but wasps and hornets are hunters of insect prey. With bees nest, the primary role of the bee sting is to defend the colony against sweet-toothed attackers, ranging from the mouse through badgers to brown bears and humans. Wasps have substantially fewer such natural enemies. This explains the sting of the honeybee; a bee will lose its stinger and its life stinging a vertebrate. Wasps and hornets use their sting to kill troublesome insect prey and they need to be able to sting repeatedly.
A single queen that mated the previous fall and over wintered as an adult founds Colonies in the spring. Nests may be aerial or terrestrial, depending upon the species of the wasp. Regardless of location, each nest is a series of horizontal combs completely surrounded by a paper envelope. Initially, the solitary queen must construct the paper brood cells, forage for food, lay eggs, feed her progeny, and defend the nest from intruders. When the first offspring emerge as adults they assume all tasks except egg laying. The queen devotes the remainder of her life to this task and does not leave the nest again. For most of the season the colony consists of sterile worker females. Workers feed larvae a diet of masticated flesh of insects, other arthropods, and fresh carrion. In autumn, larger cells are constructed for the crop of new queens. Larvae in these cells receive more food than those in normal cells. At the same time, the queen begins to lay unfertilized or male eggs. After emergence, the new queens mate and seek shelter for the winter.
Hornets may become a nuisance when nesting around homes and other structures where people live, work or play. Although considered beneficial to agriculture, (hornets feed abundantly on house flies, blow flies, harmful caterpillars, etc.), it is their painful stinging ability that causes alarm and fear. Hornets are social insects, living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. In general, the term “hornet” is used for species, which nest above ground and the term “yellow jacket” for those which make subterranean nests.
Bald-faced hornets are up to 3/4-inch long with black and ivory white markings on the face, thorax (middle body part) and tip of the abdomen. Their nests are inverted, pear-shaped with the nest entrance at the bottom. Each nest consists of a number of horizontal layers, stories (“tiers”) of circular combs, one below the other completely enclosed by a paper-like envelope as a covering.
The European hornet queen measures 25 to 35 mm long, males and workers are smaller. In males, the antennae have 13 segments, while females have 12. The male abdomen is composed of 7 visible segments, while that of the female has 6; females are equipped with an ovipositor. Eyes are deeply indented, shaped like a C. Wings are reddish-orange; the abdomen is orange striped with brown.
The paper wasp is about 3/4 to 1-inch long, slender, narrow waisted with long legs and reddish-orange to dark brown or black in color. There are yellowish markings on the abdomen. Paper-like nests, shaped like tiny umbrellas, are suspended by a short stem attached to eaves, window frames, porch ceilings, attic rafters, etc. Each nest consists of a horizontal layer (“tier”) of circular comb of hexagonal (six-sided) cells not enclosed by a paper-like envelope. The ends of the cells are open with the heads of the larvae exposed to view.
Yellow jackets are house fly-sized wasps with distinct yellow and black markings and a few hairs. They construct a similar type of paper nest; however smaller in size compared to the hornet nest, and are found in an underground cavity. Common locations for nests are in lawns, particularly in sandy exposed areas, as well as at the base of trees or shrubs. Occasionally, yellow jackets will nest in attics or wall voids of houses or storage buildings.
The honeybee is not native to the United States. It is believed to have been introduced to this continent by some of the first European settlers. The domesticated Honeybee – Apis mellifera – is one of the most vital and beneficial insects we have in North America, for without it we would have a very difficult time growing the quantities and varieties of foods that we do. Honeybees are the consummate pollinators, and when raised in domestic hives they cooperate with us in this effort. Along with the production of our food crops we also get the side benefit of a ready supply of honey.
Honeybee workers move to different jobs, as they grow older:
- Week #1 – clean the hive
- Week #2 – feed the larvae
- Week #3 – do repair work on the honeycomb cells
- Week #4 – guard the hive
- Week #5 and beyond – collect pollen and nectar from flowers
The Queen Bee receives about 90,000,000 sperm from mating with a male, but she controls how they are used. Not only will she store about one tenth of them in a separate “spermatheca”, but by creating fertilized or unfertilized eggs the queen can determine whether the eggs develop to female or male bees.
A queen bee can lay her weight in eggs each day, laying 1 per minute, all day and all night, for a total of 1,500 eggs in 24 hours, and 200,000 in a year. One reason for this is survival, for if the workers have detected a pause in their Queen’s egg laying they will immediately begin the process of creating a replacement.