PESTS - HORNETS AND WASPS
Perhaps the best separation between almost all Maine bees and wasps/hornets are their feeding habits and "body hair". First, all hornets are wasps but not all wasps are hornets. All wasps/hornets develop as a predator or parasite of other insects or are scavengers. Wasps/hornets have generally a minor role in pollination (primarily done by the males) and have a comparatively much less "hairy" body than bees.The wasps/hornets that are problematics for Mainers are yellow-jacket wasps, paper wasps and baldfaced hornet wasp.
Like honey bees, ants are social insects. An ant colony consists of workers and a queen. The workers are sterile, wingless females, about 1/4 inch long, the smallest residents of the colony. They gather food and water to feed the colony, and gnaw out wood to make areas in which the colony lives.
On Hornets and Wasps
"Controlling hornets and wasps begins with accurate identification. These pests can all present problems for you or your home. For more information, contact us for an accurate identification of the pest problem you are experiencing. If you find a nest on your property, removing it safely and completely can be difficult. We'll come out and perform an inspection of your yard and home. Once we locate their nest, we can treat the pests as well as remove the source."
Paper wasps are beneficial because they feed on insects considered pests by humans. They commonly build nests around homes, such as underneath eaves. Wasps attack when the nest is disturbed and each can sting repeatedly; stings typically cause localized pain and swelling, but in sensitive individuals or when many stings occur, more intensive reactions occur, including death.
Paper-like nests, shaped like tiny umbrellas, are suspended by a short stem attached to eaves, window frames, porch ceilings, attic rafters, etc. Each nest consists of a horizontal layer or "tier" of circular comb of hexagonal (six-sided) cells not enclosed by a paper-like envelope. The ends of the cells are open with the heads of the larvae exposed to view.
YELLOW JACKET WASPS
Yellowjackets are beneficial insects that feed other insects to their larvae, often preying on insects that humans consider pests. Unfortunately, their ability to sting makes them a considerable health concern. Yellowjackets are responsible for about one-half of all human insect stings; they are easily provoked, and can sting more than once
Yellowjacket wasps often become a nuisance from August through October, as they build up in large populations and scavenge for human food at picnics, cookouts, outside restaurants, bakeries, campsites, fairs, sports events and other outdoor get-togethers. Unless the threat of stings and nest location present a hazard, it is best to wait for freezing temperatures to kill off these annual colonies. Stinging workers do not survive the winter and the same nest is not reused.
BLADFACED HORNET WASPS
The baldfaced hornet is a member of the yellowjacket family. They are aggressive and will attack anything (or anyone) that invades their space. They can sting repeatedly and their sting is very painful.
Baldfaced hornets build paper-like nests, which are grayish-brown, inverted, pear-shaped, and up to three feet tall with the nest entrance at the bottom. Each nest consists of a number of horizontal layers, stories or "tiers" of circular combs, one below the other completely enclosed by a paper-like envelope as a covering. Also, the cells are not exposed to view. Nest are built hanging from trees, bushes, vegetation and occasionally buildings.
MANAGEMENT AND PREVENTION
The most important element of wasp and bee control is to destroy the nest. Aerosol “wasp and hornet” sprays can be used to knock down bees/wasps around the nest. Small amounts of pesticides (dust and wettable powder formulations work well) applied into the nests of carpenter bees and cicada killers provide good control. Nests of mud daubers also can be treated this way or by simply scraping them off structures. To prevent reinfestation, finishes (paint, etc.) can be applied to unfinished wood to discourage carpenter bees.
Nests, especially those of social species, should be destroyed if they are close enough to humans to pose a stinging threat. The nests of honey bees, bumble bees, yellowjackets and hornets should always be approached with caution, preferably at night when most of the workers are present but reluctant to fly. Try not to carry a light, as wasps and bees may fly toward it. Instead, set the light aside or cover it with red cellophane (insects cannot see red light).