Wasp 101 and the Difference Between Wasps and Hornets

Common Wasp

Even though we love our pollinators, we want them to stay outside where they belong. Pollinators often take the form of stinging insects, and some of them can set up shop in our houses if we’re not careful.

In this article, we’ll learn a little bit about wasps. We’ll also showcase the differences between hornets vs. wasps, as well as how you can prevent them from becoming pests in or around your home.

At Environmental Pest Management, we’re your partner for safe and effective pest removal. We keep out the unwelcome critters while making sure to protect all the “critters” that belong there. Call us today for a free estimate , and restore your home to a pest-free haven.

Wasp sitting on a glass - danger of swallowing a wasp in the summer

All About Wasps

If you’ve always avoided stinging insects at all costs, you may think they’re all the same. In fact, there are roughly 30,000 distinct wasp species in the world!

Around our homes and properties, the ones we see the most can be aggressive when disturbed, congregate in hives and are generally not fun to be around.

However, most wasps species are solitary and don’t sting. All wasps play an essential role in nature as predators. Wasps prey on other insects and help control their populations. (Who knew wasps could be effective mosquito control?)

Wasps come in every color of the rainbow, with the brighter, flashier varieties often paired with a stinger. Unlike bees that are generally rounder and sometimes fuzzy, wasps have a narrow waist and a pointed tail.

Every wasp species builds a nest. To do this, they work as a well-coordinated team. Individual wasps forage on trees, fences, barns, or other wood surfaces. They chew the wood fibers, scraping them with their strong jaws, and create a pulp which they use to build the papery walls of their hive.

Wasps build their nests in any safe, covered refuge. The corner of your soffit or the eaves of your garage could be an ideal spot to build a sheltered home site.

New colonies get their start each spring with a queen who spent the winter in a warm place with her eggs. The queen builds a small nest, just enough to incubate her initial squad of workers.

Once the worker-females hatch, they get to work expanding the nest, and the queen can lay more eggs to grow the colony in the spring and summer. Wasp nests can accumulate up to 5000 hive members.

This nesting behavior is unique to social wasp species. Many wasps, as mentioned above, are solitary creatures.

Wasps, Friend or Foe?

Though wasps and hornets are essential to a healthy ecosystem, it’s right to give them a wide berth and discourage them from setting up house near you.

Wasps will swarm and sting when threatened, even if it’s an accidental step, stumble, or fall into a nest. Further, wasps can use their stingers more than once, so they can keep delivering a punch until the threat goes away.

Though we want to give wasps healthy distance from humans, they are often used as insect control for farmers with their crops. Obviously, wasps and humans should not directly mix, but helping wasps do their job in nature is vital to all of us.

Wasp

Hornets vs Wasps: What’s the Difference?

Though we often use the terms “hornet” or “wasp” interchangeably in conversation, there are some distinct differences between the two insect types.

In the US, we have two common social wasp species: Yellowjackets and paper wasps.

Our common hornet species include the European hornet (a true hornet species)and the bald-faced hornet (which is actually still a wasp but was named colloquially as a hornet.)

Hornets are slightly larger than wasps, measuring in at 1.5 inches. Hornets also have a more subdued coloration in black, white, or brown tones.

Hornets build their nests above ground only, whereas wasps can attach a nest to an aerial location as well as nesting in the ground.

Hornet nests are also exclusively made of the familiar paper material, whereas wasp nests, when aerial, remain unprotected by a paper covering. Hornet nests also remain smaller than some wasp nests, topping out at around 700 insects per hive at the most.

Finally, hornets are predators through-and-through, targeting other insects near their nests for their food source. Wasps prey on other insects, but they also enjoy foraging on sweets and proteins.

Wasp and Hornet Similarities

Like hornets, yellowjackets can be aggressive stingers when threatened. However, paper wasps are typically more docile, and unless their home is truly under threat, they won’t generally come after passers-by.

Still, those stingers! It’s important to control wasps or hornets around your home. Getting stung can mean anything from a painful, but minor injury, to a severe allergic reaction with a possible visit to the ER.

A wasp is sitting at a food source

Call EPM For Professional Help With Stinger-Patrol

Being proactive about pest discovery is the first step in ensuring a sting-free property. Have a look around your house, paying careful attention to cracks, creases, corners, or other potential areas where wasps and hornets may find a haven.

You may also want to carefully canvas your yard, keeping your eyes open for flying insects like hornets or wasps and taking note of their flight path. If you see one or several landing in your yard and then disappearing, you may have a ground nest with which to contend.

If you notice insect activity but cannot find a nest, it may be inside a wall, an opening in your siding, or a crevice in your attic. It’s important to secure any points of entry into your home as part of your pest control strategy.

Once your pests are trapped or evicted, you’ll want to make sure to keep any future “welcome mat” rolled-up tight.

The professionals at Environmental Pest Control will give a thorough home inspection when you notice pest activity. We’ll make a control recommendation that fits your home, family, and budget, as well as helping you repair common points of entry for future pest prevention.

At Environmental Pest Management, we understand the importance of stinging insects in nature just as much as we know the importance of keeping them out of your home. Contact us at the first sign of wasp or hornet activity, and we’ll get you back to enjoying your yard.

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