Expert Contributor - Scott DideonStinging Insects

In Washington state most wasps and bees are fairly harmless and

will leave you alone if they are not disturbed.  But there are a few

that you will want to watch out for.   Knowing the difference will help in protecting you and your family and being able to reduce our impact on the environment whenever possible.

Yellow Jackets (Vespula species) – are characterized by the black and yellow striped pattern and a general nasty demeanor.  Yellow jackets towards the end of summer will aggressively defend their nest, which can be an enclosed nest in a tree, inside a wall of a home or in an old rodent burrow.  Catching the nests early in the summer is essential at reducing some unanticipated interactions with them that will be hard to forget.

Bald Faced Hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) – a cousin of the yellow jackets but a little larger with black and white stripes.  Bald faced hornets almost always create their nests on tree branches waiting for the unsuspecting person to walk right under them.

Paper Wasps (Polistes species) – are very common at forming open honeycomb nests in the eaves of a home.  As the colonies begin to grow the wasps can become more and more protective of their nests and then people can be stung.  These wasps have a very tight waist and often have some red in their colorization.

Mud Daubers  (Sceliphron caementarium) – look like Paper Wasps but are solitary wasps that form mud tubes in the attics and eaves of homes.  They are often considered beneficial insects because they are not aggressive and will parasitize spiders and store them in the mud tubes with their eggs.

Honey Bees (Apis melifera) – are the beneficial common honey bees that we use to fertilize our crops and agriculture.  Rarely are they aggressive and they are the only stinging insect that survives the winter.  If a swarm develops around your home, please let us know and we will try to rescue the colony.

Bumble Bee (Bombus species) – are the largest “furrry” bees that are very common in Washington state.  They are active in the early spring and pretty much leave people alone unless someone stumbles onto an activity hive.

Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) – Recently in the news because of sightings along the border of Canada.  While a significant concern, it is still unlikely that it will spread into our area.

Mining Bees and Mason Bees  – are solitary bees that help pollinate plants and while they can sting they rarely do unless one works its way up into a person’s clothing and get trapped.

As we service your homes and businesses, we strive to determine which wasp or bee could be a concern towards your health while minimizing the impact that we have on the beneficial insects.

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