Summertime is a season of sun, vacation, backyard barbecues. Inevitably, it’s also the season of stinging insects.
How can you best prevent those pesky wasps, hornets, and bees from interrupting your party?
Protect your yard and home from unwanted stinging insects, call the experts and connect with Environmental Pest Management for a free quote today.
Wasps, hornets, and bees: what’s the difference?
Wasps and hornets can be quite an annoyance at your garden party. Being more aggressive, they are harder to deal with than the friendly bee.
Wasps and hornets
Wasps appear armor-plated with a sleek, hairless body. The most common wasps in Minnesota are yellow jackets and paper wasps.
Yellowjacket wasps are yellow and black. Their thorax ends with a pointy tip.
Paper wasps have a segmented body with a thin waist. They have dark coloring with smokey black wings.
Hornets are a wasp, but their bodies are a little rounder than yellow jackets or paper wasps.
Social hives versus solo-resident nests
When wasps and hornets live communally, you can find their nests in trees, under the eaves of a house, or porches. These stinging insects can also live in individual nests usually found in sand or soil locations.
They raise their young in communal hives. Like honey bees, wasps and hornets have a single queen.
Wasps and hornets generally are not interested in humans unless they are defending their nests. The stinging insects are quite territorial, and if you come within a yard of their nest or hive, these insects may attack you.
Wasps are predators and use their stingers offensively and defensively. They sting to stun or kill their prey, and they sting to ward off threats.
Wasps can sting their target multiple times.
Wasps and hornets are essential in helping control the population of small insects. They also feed on sweet nectars from flowers and fruit trees.
Honey bees or bumblebees
While these flying insects can also sting, they are generally much less aggressive.
Honey bees are yellow and black flying insects that grow fuzz or fur on their bodies. The presence of hairs on the bee’s body helps you differentiate them from yellow jackets.
Bumblebees are rounder and plumper than honey bees. They also have black and yellow stripes and fuzz all over their bodies.
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Honey bees live in hives with a single queen, and their nests are often found in trees. Bumblebees live in holes in the ground.
Helpful and hairy
Bees are helpful pollinators, and much of our fruit, grain, and vegetable production depends on them. Pollen attaches to their hairy bodies and is deposited to other flowers as they fly from bloom to bloom.
While generally less aggressive, honey bees can only sting once, then die. If possible, do not kill honey or bumblebees, as they are important to our ecosystem and can be considered a beneficial insect.
What happens when you get stung?
No question, stinging insects no fun. What is a stinger’s anatomy, and what is the biological response in your body after you get stung?
History of the stinger
In prehistoric times, the stinger was not for attacking but instead was how female wasps laid their eggs. This anatomical feature is why only female wasps and hornets have stingers.
Anatomy of the stinger
Wasp venom is produced and stored in a sac near the stinger. The poison seeps out through valves, which leads to the sheath which holds the stinger.
The smooth stinger is coated in venom. The wasp is always ready to respond to a threat or attack.
When you are stung by an insect, your body has a few biological reactions—the most common being: pain, redness at the site, and swelling.
Why does it hurt?
Peptides and enzymes in venom will break down cellular membranes in your skin. When neuron cells are affected, the injured cells send a signal to the brain.
That message translates into the sensation of pain.
Another element in stinger venom is a chemical that acts like norepinephrine. This chemical slows blood flow, which causes the pain to continue for several minutes.
Hyaluronidase and MCDP (Mast Cell Degranulating Peptide) are also present in venom. They potentiate the enzymes that break down cell walls in your skin, which is why wasp and bee sting often lead to swelling and redness in the area.
How to prevent wasp and bee stings
While it can be challenging to avoid stinging insects entirely in the summer, here are some great tips to encourage them to stay away from you and your loved ones.
- Minimize wearing strong perfumes or scents.
- Food smells especially attract wasps. When eating outside, clean up food scraps and leftovers quickly.
- Avoid wearing dark colors and bright floral patterns as they are all attracted to these colors.
- Keep outdoor waste cans away from where people may be congregating as wasps are attracted to garbage.
- Wear closed-toe shoes if possible when walking on the grass.
Most importantly, nests found near your home or in areas where people gather must be safely removed. It can be very dangerous to your health if the wasps or bees become angry and aggressive, so don’t try to remove them yourself.
Especially if you have an allergy to bee venom, do not attempt to remove a nest yourself.
At Environmental Pest Management, we have Master Licensed Technicians who can help. Our team specializes in integrated pest management, which allows us to address a pest control or insect problem by non-chemical means.
Call us if you would like to set up a free inspection to help you have a sting-free summer. We are masters at creating harmony between humans and the natural world around them.