Bees, wasps, and hornets are, for the most part, beneficial to the environment. They are key players in pollinating plants. They also help get rid of many other pests.
There are many deaths each year from these insects, but they are usually due to the individual having an allergic reaction. They are almost everywhere, especially in the warmer months. You'll find them in your garden, near your trash, and building nests under your eaves.
There are two different classifications of bees, hornets, and wasps:
Bees are commercially viable and an integral part of the ecosystem. They pollinate the majority of the food you consume. Bees should be handled by an expert and removed & repurposed, rather than exterminated. It is important that you distinguish between whether you have a bee infestation or wasp infestation. They are dealt with differently.
Yellow jackets are, what they sound like... Yellow. They usually have yellow and black patches. Each species of yellow jackets will have different patterns of black patches to identify them. They can grow up to an inch long and have two wings that are different for every insect. Sort of like their very own thumbprint. Bee (get it?.. Lame) sure to pick up after yourself, because they like to feed on sugar. So, if you leave out a soda or juice, they will be attracted to it. Do that enough and they may even set up shop.
Yellow jackets live in colonies (social). The females are the workers and do just about everything (what else is new right?) from foraging for food to protecting the hive. The colonies usually start up every spring and end in the fall. In warmer climates, this does not happen as much. Males are produced at the end of the summer so that they may fertilize the queens over the winter.
Queens will emerge in the spring and find a site to build a nest. They will build a small paper nest and lay their eggs. The queen will then nurture the young for approximately 3 weeks after they hatch. Once they are able the workers then start the cycle all over again. You will normally find nests in high places such as trees, branches, attics, eaves, shrubs, and sometimes underground.
Yellow jackets are wasps (not bees) and can be aggressive. They will sting repeatedly to protect themselves and their queen. This is why a colony in or near your home is detrimental to your families health.
While some species of carpenter bees are small, the suckers that will take over the wood structures of your home are among the largest bees in North America. They range in colors from bluish green & black to light tan colored. Just like most other bees, they feed on pollen and nectar. Lucky for you, carpenter bees are a solitary species. What they will do is burrow into the wood in your home. Sort of like a drill and make it their home. This is where the will stay and reproduce.
They do not eat wood, but they drilled out the wood. It becomes sawdust (called frass) and thrown from their tunnels. This is a key indicator as to if you have wood invading insects (carpenter ants, termites, etc). The female carpenter bees might work as a team to drill holes in the wood, but they will each have their own space (called galleries) running off the main tunnel.
The males and females will mate in the spring. The females will lay eggs and leave enough food & supplies for the hatchlings. Once completed she will not return. In this case, the males are in charge of protecting their offspring. They will guard the entrance to the galleries and try to fend off any possible intruders. Unfortunately, males do not have a stinger, but the females do. The real problem with carpenter bees is that you cannot directly see the damage they have done because they have burrowed into the wood. They may also keep on using the same galleries each year. This can cause some real damage, especially if they keep growing with the structures of your home.
Bald-faced hornets are actually closely related to yellow jackets, then to hornets. They are usually black with a white face (very distinctive and creepy all at the same time). They can be almost a half to a full inch larger than a yellow jacket. They are active during daylight hours and usually build their nests just like yellow jackets do. They like sugar and will transport food and supplies back to their paper nests.
Bald-faced hornet colonies begin in the spring when the queen lays her eggs as she builds her nest. She will put food such as insects and sugar, into egg cell with the eggs. When the eggs hatch they will feed off the food left for them. The hatched hornets will then start to build the nest. The nests can get quite large, the size of a volleyball or basketball within months.
Just like yellow jackets, the males will show up in the late summer and mate with the females. The females will then find a place to hibernate or hold out over the winter. All the others will die off. Beware, the bald-faced hornet can be aggressive, especially during the fall months. The hive can grow at rapid pace, so you should not stand idly by while they make their home.
Just like the yellow jacket and the bald-faced hornet, these wasps can get up to an inch long. They feed off surely foods and liquids. They live in colonies and reproduce the same way yellow jackets do. They get their name from the upside down umbrella-shaped nests they build. Unlike the other two, they house a smaller population within their nests. Usually only counting up to a few hundred.
The Umbrella Wasps nests are made of chewed up wood and Wasp spit. Think about that for a second! They are big fans of attics and overhangs for their nests.
Their sting can be painful, so before they take over, call a professional to exterminate them.
What do we do?
We will come over and inspect your home or property. We check all areas of your home for possible infestations or areas that may be at risk. We then discuss with you, the homeowner, what the process moving forward should be. Together we will develop a treatment plan.
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Wasps taking over your patio? Get in touch with one of our professionals now! We offer a FREE home inspection.
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