Wasp and Stinging Insect Control
Wasps are members of the taxonomical order Hymenoptera, the order that also includes ants and bees. There are approximately 25,000 species of wasps, many of which are beneficial either as pollinators or because they parasitize or prey upon harmful insects. Only a few wasp species are significant pests in the Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas Metropolitan area.
Yellow jackets wasps are approximately one-half to three-quarters of an inch in length as adults, and have very distinctive black and yellow coloration. They are social insects who live in large colonies with well-defined roles.
Yellow jackets are primarily carnivorous, eating other insects and scavenging for animal carcasses. But they also will readily drink nectar, soft drinks, and other sugary fluids. They’re common pests in and around picnic areas, golf courses, and other outdoor recreational areas where food and drinks are consumed.
In nature, yellow jackets usually build their nests either underground or in hollow trees or other naturally-occurring voids. But they also build nests in structural voids of buildings, roof soffits, crawl spaces, playground equipment, and pretty much any other hollow object they can find. Very often, the actual nest is hidden inside the void, some distance away from the entry hole, making extermination a challenge.
Yellow jackets are fairly aggressive and are capable of inflicting multiple, painful stings. They may attack if approached or if the colony is threatened, making yellow jacket control a job for trained, professional exterminators. In warmer climates such as ours in Texas, yellow jacket colonies can survive for several years, and the number of wasps in a colony can reach several thousand — making yellow jacket control not only difficult, but dangerous as well.
Baldfaced hornets are among the most aggressive of all wasps found in Texas. These stocky insects are predominantly black with white or pale yellow markings, and build paper nests that can contain hundreds or thousands of individual hornets. At any given time, two or three hornets are stationed outside the nest to watch for threats to the colony. We call these hornets “sentries” because it’s their job to stand watch over the colony.
Hornets are among the few insects that make professional exterminators nervous. They are fiercely aggressive and will literally attack a person for “just looking at them funny.” When the sentries see something that they think is a threat, they will signal the rest of the colony; and almost all the colony’s members will immediately emerge en masse and zone in on the individual or animal who had the audacity to get too close to their nest. The resulting stings are excruciatingly painful, and multiple stings inflicted during such an attack can require medical attention even for a person who is not allergic to insects stings.
Long story short: Don’t attempt to exterminate baldfaced hornets by yourself. Hornet removal is not a do-it-yourself kind of job. Even professional exterminators treat these aggressive wasps with respect, and so should you.
Paper Wasps / Polistes Wasps
There are many species of paper wasps that vary widely in coloration, habits, and degree of aggressiveness. One thing all paper wasps have in common, however, is that they build nests using paper that they manufacture themselves. They commonly build nests on window and door frames, in hollow metal fence posts and PVC furniture, and on playground equipment.
As a group, paper wasps are less aggressive than most other wasps. Some species also are somewhat beneficial to agriculture because they feed upon various harmful insects. But paper wasps are capable of inflicting multiple stings if their nests are threatened, and they sometimes become a nuisance when they nest around homes, recreational facilities, or other human-occupied areas.
During fall and spring, paper wasps are very active. They swarm around high structures, such as chimneys, looking for suitable places to build nests. Sometimes they get into homes by flying into the chimney flue. Treating the chimney cap and chimney chase will help prevent the wasps from getting into the house.
Cicada killers are among the largest of wasp species, often reaching lengths of one and a half inches. Females build their nests in sandy soil, often defacing lawns with their unsightly holes. They then go out and find a cicada, paralyze it, drag it down into the burrow, and lay an egg on or nearby the cicada’s body.
When the egg hatches, the larva will eat the cicada from the inside out until only the shell remains, and then will go into pupation, which usually occurs over the winter, and will emerge in the spring. As adults, cicada killers feed exclusively on fruit nectar. Only the larva eat cicadas.
Although many female cicada killers may build nests in the same general area, cicada killers are solitary wasps. They don’t cooperate with each other or live in colonies. They just happen to live in the same neighborhood, probably because they’re attracted to the same piece of suitable earth.
Their tendency to nest close together probably gives cicada killers an advantage, however, because they can be intimidating in large numbers. The truth, though, is that female cicada killers rarely sting, and the males can’t sting at all. That doesn’t stop the males from aggressively “attacking” humans and animals who get too close, but it’s all a show. Male cicada killers have no stingers. The worst they can do is head-butt you.
Feel free to call us at 817-589-1632 for more information about wasp and stinging insect control, or any of our high-quality pest control services.
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