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With summer right around the corner, insects are making their presence known. Two common pests that are frequently seen in the warmer months are bees and wasps. If your home has seen a sudden spike in the number of bees or wasps, evaluating the problem is a necessary first step to ensure the safety of your family and property.

What is the Difference Between a Bee and a Wasp?

Identifying your pest problem is the first step in properly eradicating the issue. Bees have rounder, fuzzy bodies while wasps are slender and appear shiny. Wasps are typically much more aggressive than bees, making them a greater danger to you and your family’s safety. To delve deeper, there are two primary subgroups of each insect:

Solitary Bees

Not all bees live in colonies. 90% of all bee species are solitary bees. The female solitary bees will build their own nests in the ground, in cracks or crevices in walls, or in wood. Solitary bees are beneficial because they will gather nectar and pollen for the young and thus pollinate plants.

The more common of solitary bees are mason bees, plasterer bees, digger bees, sweat bees and carpenter bees. They vary in color from basic black to bright metallic green, blue or red. Some solitary bees can become a nuisance because they will cause damage to structures, while others are intimidating by their size and the sound as they fly around.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees cause damage to wood on homes and buildings by chewing tunnels in the wood to lay eggs. These insects have erratic flight patterns and appear to be diving, darting, and chasing one another in mid-air, darting with sharp turns and hovering around nesting sites. Carpenter bee females excavate wood in order to build nests for eggs, which often results in staining on the side of the building right by the hole. Carpenter bees are wood destroying insects and become active in early spring.

Carpenter bee treatments include a chemical application to roof trim areas where carpenter bees are known to nest. All treatments are guaranteed and come with an Annual Service Plan to prevent further infestations. Repair of carpenter bee damage can be done also at an additional cost.

Solitary Wasps

Solitary wasps that are commonly found are Mud Daubers, Cicada Killers, and Tarantula Hawks. They are typically unaggressive unless disturbed. Mud daubers can be a nuisance because they will build their mud nests on the walls of structures which are unsightly and difficult to remove. Cicada killers and Tarantula Hawks are a nuisance in the sense that they are big and intimidating. These wasps will sting their prey with a paralytic and place it in the nests with their eggs. Cicada Killers and Tarantula Hawks make their nests in the ground and will drag their prey to the nests.

Social Wasps

Social wasps that are commonly found are paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. More commonly we find paper wasp nests under eves of houses or in garages and attics. Paper wasps are sometimes called umbrella wasps because the shape of their nests that look like an umbrella. Like yellow jackets and hornets, paper wasps will construct their nests with chewed-up wood fibers and saliva. However, paper wasps will only build one comb with no protective envelope.

Yellow jackets will build their nests underground, taking advantage of abandoned rodent burrows or hollowed tree stumps. Yellow jackets are typically docile until disturbed. When their nest is threatened, they can become very aggressive and sting multiple times. The colonies are annual with just the fertilized queen left to over-winter in a protected area. She will then emerge in spring, select a nest, and build a paper comb to lay her brood of about 30-50 eggs. The nest will grow to about 5,000 by late summer. Sometimes these nests can be stumbled upon walking through a field where the colony is just below the surface of the ground.

The bald-faced hornet is a subspecies of the yellow jacket. The hornet is longer and lacks the yellow coloring of the yellow jacket and has distinctive stripes around her abdomen. She will build her nests in trees or attics. We have found hornets nests in public bathrooms and equipment sheds. Like her congener the yellow jacket, the hornet can become very aggressive when the nest is disturbed, stinging multiple times. The nests are typically 23 inches in length, have a distinctive mosaic pattern, and may house up to 700 hornets.

To learn more about bees and wasps in Southern California, click here. If you suspect that you have a bee or wasp infestation, contact Stanley Pest Control right away! We can safely remove bees and wasps from your property.