STINGING INSECTS



There are many species of stinging insects that range from the very beneficial Honey Bee, to the very aggressive European Hornet. Some of the more common species you're likely to encounter in the tri-state area are listed below.

 

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Female velvet ants dig into the nesting chambers of ground-nesting bees and wasps and lay their eggs on the larvae inside. When the immature velvet ant is born, it eats its host and then spins its cocoon within the pupal case of its host.

HABITS: Female velvet ants dig into the nesting chambers of ground-nesting bees and wasps and lay their eggs on the larvae inside. When the immature velvet ant is born, it eats its host and then spins its cocoon within the pupal case of its host.

HABITAT: Female cow killer ants are typically seen running somewhat erratically on the ground, especially on bare or sandy areas in the warm summer months. They occasionally enter structures for insect prey. Males are often found on flowers, although some species are nocturnal.

THREAT:  Female velvet ants have a very potent sting that has earned them the nickname "cow-killer." Male velvet ants lack a stinger but have wings.

RED VELVET ANT STATS


Carpenter bees look like typical bumblebees but often lack yellow stripes. This type of stinging bee gets its common name from its habit of boring into wood like a carpenter.

HABITS: Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. The adult carpenter bees hibernate over winter, typically in abandoned nest tunnels and emerge in the spring to feed on nectar.

HABITAT: Carpenter bees do not live in nests or colonies. Instead, female carpenter bees bore circular holes through soft wood to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.

THREAT: Carpenter bees are a serious property threat, as they can cause structural damage over time if left untreated. Male carpenter bees can be territorial and may hover in front of one's face aggressively, but they have no stinger and these actions are merely for show. Female carpenter bees do have a potent stinger, but it's rarely used.

BROWN RECLUSE STATS


Honey bees are social insects found all over the world. They are beneficial insects because of their role in pollination. Honey bees pollinate more than 100 crops in the U.S.

HABITS: Honeybees are active pollinators, and produce honey which feeds their young in colder months. The honeybee is the only social insect whose colony can survive many years.

HABITAT: Honeybees produce honey from pollen and nectar of the plants they pollinate. They store the honey in honeycombs in their nests. They often build their nests in tree crevices, but will occasionally build nests in attics or chimneys.

THREAT: Honeybees do sting, but they only sting once. The sting can be extremely painful if the stinger is not immediately removed from the sting. Persons allergic to insect stings will have a more severe reaction.

HONEY BEE STATS


This hornet (also called Giant hornet) gets its common name from its introduction from Europe into the New York area in the 1800's. European hornets are much larger than yellow jackets and unlike most stinging insects, can be active at night.

HABITS: European hornets are social insects and live in colonies that may contain between 200-400 members at their peak. They usually appear in late summer. They prey on a variety of large insects such as grasshoppers, flies, yellow jackets and honeybees. They also eat tree sap, fruit, and honeydew. European hornets are attracted to light and are known to repeatedly bang on lighted windows at night.

HABITAT: European hornets nest in hollow trees, barns, out buildings, hollow walls of houses, attics, and abandoned beehives. Unprotected nests are usually covered in a brown envelope made of cellulose from decayed wood.

THREAT: European hornets can do a great deal of damage to trees and shrubs because they strip the bark to get to the sap. They also use the bark fiber to build their nests. They have smooth stingers, so they can sting over and over again. Hornet stings also carry venom that makes the stings hurt, itch, or swell for about 24 hours. A European hornet sting has the same risk of allergic reactions as with other insect stings.

EUROPEAN HORNET STATS


Paper wasps get their common name from the paper-like material out of which they make their nests. Paper wasps are sometimes called umbrella wasps, after the shape of their distinctive nests.

HABITS: Paper wasps are semi-social and live in small colonies. They eat nectar and other insects including caterpillars and flies. In the autumn, inseminated females will seek places to spend the winter, and may find their way indoors, especially if there is a cathedral ceiling present.

HABITAT: Paper wasps hang their comb nests from twigs and branches of trees and shrubs, porch ceilings, the tops of window and doorframes, soffits, eaves, attic rafters, deck floor joists and railings, etc.

THREAT: While not an aggressive species by nature, paper wasps will sting if they are disturbed or their nest is threatened. Wasp stings are painful and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stings.

PAPER WASP STATS


There are several species of yellowjackets. These flying insects typically have a yellow and black head/face and patterned abdomen.

HABITS: Yellowjackets are social insects that live in nests or colonies with up to 4,000 workers. They are most active in the late summer and early autumn when a colony is at its peak. Yellowjackets feed on sweets and proteins, and therefore commonly invade outdoor events.

HABITAT: Yellowjackets can be found anywhere humans are found. They build paper carton nests out of chewed up cellulose, which are usually found in the ground or in cavernous areas such as eaves and attics.

THREAT: Yellowjacket stings pose significant health threats to humans, as they are territorial and will sting if threatened. They are known to sting repeatedly and can cause allergic reactions. Yellowjackets and other stinging insects send over 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.

PAPER WASP STATS


Bumblebees are considered a beneficial insect because they pollinate crops and plants, however, they can sting.

HABITS: The occupant of a disturbed bumble bee nest will buzz in a loud volume. They defend their nests aggressively.

HABITAT: Bumble bees often nest in the ground, but can be found above ground around patio areas or decks. They will sometimes build their ness in soffits of attics.

THREAT: As part of their aggressive defense of their nests, bumble bees will chase nest invaders for a considerable distance. The bumble bee sting is one of the most painful. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees can sting more than once.

BUMBLE BEE STATS


The bald-faced hornet is a relative of the yellowjacket and gets its common name from its largely black color and mostly white face. This stinging insect is named a hornet because of its large size and aerial nest.

HABITS: Bald-faced hornets are social insects, although not true hornets. They live in colonies that may contain between 100 and 400 members at their peak. They usually appear in late summer when populations are largest. Unlike other stinging insects, bald-faced hornets do not reuse their nests season after season.

HABITAT: Bald-faced hornets build paper nests at least three or more feet off of the ground, usually in trees, shrubs, on overhangs, utility poles, houses, sheds or other structures. These nests can be as large as 14 inches in diameter and more than 24 inches in length.

THREAT: Bald-faced hornets are aggressive and will attack anyone or anything that invades their space. This makes bald-faced hornet removal somewhat difficult. These hornets have smooth stingers, so they can sting over and over again. Bald-faced hornet stings also carry venom that makes the stings hurt, itch and swell for about 24 hours. Humans are at the same risk of allergic reactions from bald-faced hornet stings as with other insect stings.

BUMBLE BEE STATS


This group of wasps gets its common name from the fact that they construct their nest of mud. Mud daubers are considered nuisance pests and rarely sting.

HABITS: Mud daubers are solitary wasps. They are not social and do not live in colonies. Mud daubers provision spiders for their larvae by paralyzing them with their venom and bringing them into their nests.

HABITAT: Female mud daubers construct nests of mud. Many short mud tubes, usually about 1" long, are constructed side by side. They usually build their nests in a sheltered site, such as under eaves, porch ceilings, in garages and sheds left open, in barns and attics, etc. Nests typically exhibit round holes in them as the wasps emerge. This means the nest is probably old and inactive after springtime.

THREAT: Mud daubers do not defend their nests. In fact, open pipe mud dauber stings are fairly rare. These insects are typically considered nuisance pests, and are actually beneficial as they help control spiders.

MUD DAUBER STATS