What Are Wasps?
Wasps are a type of stinging insect. Most species of wasps have pinched waists, two pairs of wings, and six legs that hang down when flying. The majority of wasps are predatory, killing and feeding on various species of garden pests, spiders, and other insects. Adult wasps feed on nectar and pollen. Therefore, wasps are responsible for some pollination.
The most common species of stinging insects living in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC are bald faced hornets, cicada killers, European hornets, mud daubers, paper wasps and yellowjackets.
Bald Faced Hornets
Not a true hornet, bald faced hornets are closely related to yellowjackets. They are black, with a white pattern on most of their faces (bald faced), and get to be a little more than half an inch. Bald faced hornets are territorial, and defend their aerial nests aggressively. Typically found on trees, in bushes, or attached to the side of a house or shed, these nests are enclosed within a protective paper shell, and workers can be seen flying in, out, and around the nest.
Cicada Killer Wasps
Cicada killer wasps are large, solitary digger wasps that hunt and feed on cicadas. Adult cicada killer wasps can be up to two inches long, and are dark colored, often black, with light yellow stripes on their abdomens. The females are larger than the males, and they will sting a cicada before carrying it back to their nest to provide food for their young. While females are typically not aggressive, because of their straight ovipositor (stinger), they are capable of stinging repeatedly. Males are more territorial, but since they lack ovipositors, are incapable of stinging.
European hornets are large, brown hornets with yellow stripes and pale faces. They easily exceed three quarters of an inch, getting to be up to an inch and a half. European hornets typically nest in hollow trees, attics, and wall voids, but can be found in other places. If the nest is not built inside another object, it will have a stiff, paper-like brown covering made of chewed wood. A European hornet colony will contain 200 to 400 adult hornets at the peak of their season (late summer), and they feed on insects, tree sap, fruit, and honeydew.
Mud daubers are a large species of wasps. They have narrow waists and a thread-like segment between their thoraxes and abdomens, giving them the appearance of being stretched. Mud daubers range in color from black to metallic blue and may have yellow or green markings. They are solitary pests that are commonly identified by the unique nests they create out of mud and mud-like material.
Paper wasps have bodies that are brown or black with yellow or orange markings, and their wings are gray. They create upside-down, umbrella-shaped nests from a plant and wood fibers that are mixed with their saliva.
Yellowjackets are social, stinging insects, with colonies numbering potentially in the thousands. In Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC they typically nest just below the ground, though they can be found above ground. A yellowjacket nest has a tan/brown to red/orange colored protective envelope made of worn, decaying wood. If their nest is above ground, it is most often inside another object, such as a pipe, tree stump, or a shed. They aggressively defend their nests from threats, and their stings are known to be painful.
Are wasps dangerous?
Wasps have the potential to be dangerous to people and pets; this is especially true when they build their nests on your property. While not all wasps are considered aggressive, all species of wasps will defend themselves if they feel provoked or threatened. Most wasps have smooth stingers that allow them to sting their victims repeatedly. These stings are extremely painful and the venom they inject is powerful enough to cause allergic reactions in some people, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis in extreme cases.
Why do I have a wasp problem?
Wasps are most active in the late summer and fall, and are attracted to properties that provide lots of easily accessible food sources. They invade your property because it provides them with a suitable place to nest or forage for food. Most are predators and hunt a variety of garden insects and spiders. Other potential food sources for wasps include compost, honeydew, nectar, proteins, and trash. Stinging insects live, breed, and feed outside, but can become a problem on any residential or commercial property.
Where will I find wasps?
Wasps build their nests in areas that provide them with protected shelters. All wasps typically nest outside, but sometimes find their way inside of a home and build their nests in secluded spots like attics, chimneys, and wall voids. Mud daubers prefer to build their small nests underneath overhangs or within tight crevices. These nests are constructed in doorways, in rock crevices, under porches and decks, or under roof eaves. Paper wasps place their nests off the ground in door frames, in trees, on utility poles, or under decks.
How do I get rid of wasps?
If wasps have become a problem in your home or on your property, it is best to seek the help of a pest control professional. When you partner with the licensed experts here at Miche Pest Control, you will have the peace of mind to know that the entire wasp infestation will be eliminated. Our friendly, highly trained professionals use effective and modern pest control methods and products to control wasps and other common household pests living in and around your home or business. To learn more about our exceptional wasp control services that are performed throughout our service areas in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., contact Miche Pest Control today!
How can I prevent wasps in the future?
Preventing problems with wasps is difficult, but we want to help you guard your property against wasps by offering these helpful prevention tips:
Fill holes in your yard and remove fallen trees, tree stumps, and other debris from your property that could be used as a nesting location.
Switch out white outdoor lights on your property with yellow or LED lights that are less attractive to insects.
Trim tree branches back away from the exterior of your property.
Make sure any outdoor trash cans and compost bins have tight-fitting lids.
Eliminate water sources by fixing leaky pipes and fixtures, and removing birdbaths and containers that can collect rainwater.
Eliminate entry points by placing caps on chimneys, placing weather stripping around doors and windows, fixing holes along the roofline, and replacing damaged screens.
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