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Wasp, Bee, and Hornet Control

A lot of people call any stinging insect that flies a "bee." But in the Dayton, Springfield, Northern Cincinnati, and Miami Valley areas, most stinging insects are actually wasps, not bees. And with the exception of hornets, most wasps won't go out of their way to bother you unless you give them a good reason. Yes, any wasp will attack you if it feels threatened; but if there's enough distance between you and them, most wasps won't bother you.

The problem is that sometimes the wasps decide to get too close to you, building their nests in or close to your home, whether it's under your shutters, in your attic, under the eaves, or in any other place that is part of your territory. In that case, you really can't avoid getting too close to them because they brought the fight to you. That's when you need Pro Zone Pest Control.

Here are a few of the stinging insects most commonly found in Dayton and Springfield, presented in order of aggressiveness.

Baldfaced Hornets

A bald-faced hornet, one of the most aggressive wasp species

Baldfaced hornets are black or very dark blue in color with pale yellow or white markings. They can be easily distinguished from honeybees because hornets have much narrower pedicels ("waists") and are less fuzzy than bees. They live in large colonies inside paper nests that usually hang from tree branches or other horizontal surfaces, but occasionally are built on the sides of houses or other vertical surfaces.

Baldfaced hornets are by far the most aggressive stinging wasps in Ohio. They are the only stinging insects that will really go out of their way to attack people who aren't causing them any harm, simply because they think those people might mean them some harm. It's not unheard of for them to attack people as far as 10 or 20 feet away.

Hornets are also very unpredictable. They may tolerate a person's or family's presence for days or weeks, and then suddenly decide to attack. This is probably due to their posting "sentries" outside the nest holes to keep a lookout for threats. If the sentries see something that they don't like, they alert the rest of the colony; and almost immediately, nearly the entire colony will attack the perceived threat en masse. So the reason why hornets may tolerate you for days or weeks, but then suddenly decide to attack you one day, may simply be that some sentries are more easily frightened than others.

Hornet stings are extremely painful, and being mass-attacked by hornets can cause serious allergic reactions even in people who aren't usually sensitive to wasp and bee stings. Because of their aggressiveness and their sometimes difficult-to-reach nests, hornet control is definitely not a DIY job.

Yellow Jackets

A yellow jacket wasp drawing nectar from a flower

Yellow jackets are very aggressive wasps that build paper nests inside void areas such as walls and ceilings of buildings, attics, barns, sheds, and even old cars. Their nests are roughly round in shape if there are no size constraints, but if space is limited, yellow jackets will build their nests to conform to size and shape of the available space. The nests are usually hidden may be some distance from the visible entrance holes, with the wasps traveling inside the building from the hole to the nest.

Although very aggressive when threatened, yellow jackets aren't as easily provoked as hornets are. It usually takes a direct show of ill will toward them before they'll attack in large numbers. Otherwise, they pretty much ignore humans.

Yellow jackets are opportunistic omnivores. They'll hunt if need be, but they're also happy scavenging for carrion or foraging for nectar or fruit juices. They're a particularly annoying pest around campgrounds and picnic areas because they try to steal food from people's plates or scavenge from trash cans. They usually don't actually bother people at these functions unless the people start swatting at them.

Effective yellow jacket control involves finding and killing the nest. That's not always easy. Their nests are usually well-hidden and aggressively defended. Unlike honey bees, however, yellow jackets produce neither honey nor wax; so there's no need to actually remove the nest after treating it.

Honey Bees

A honey bee drawing nectar from a flower

Honey bees are very aggressive if they are disturbed, but they're not easily disturbed. They seem to have a pretty good sense of who means them harm and who doesn't. They also seem able to learn to recognize people who they've already decided are not a threat to their nests. Once a honey bee colony is accustomed to you, they're not likely to attack. But if you get too close to a honey bee nest or otherwise act in a way that they find threatening, then all bets are off.

You might say that honey bees walk softly, but they carry a big sting.

Honey bees are vital pollinators who provide a vital service to Ohio's agricultural industry. If you have honey bees on your property in a location where they're not bothering anyone, you we urge you to just leave them alone. Their ranks are already being reduced by bee illnesses that we don't fully understand, and we really do need the bees. So if you have a honey bee nest in an old, hollow tree in a wooded lot where they're not bothering anyone, please consider leaving them be.

In fact, the only time that you absolutely have to remove a honey bee nest is if they build the nest in or extremely close your home, such as in a tree or bush right next to the front door. Even then, if you can get a beekeeper to come get them, that would be preferable to killing them. Unfortunately, because of the high rate of diseases affecting bees, many beekeepers will no longer accept "wild" bees. That's when you should call us.

Whether you call a beekeeper or hire us to remove your bees, the entire hive must be removed. You can't just kill the bees and leave the hive because the hives contain honey and wax that will melt once the bees are gone. (They air-condition it with their wings.) So if you decide to call a beekeeper or hire another company, make sure that the nest itself is removed, otherwise you're going to have a very sticky situation on your hands.

Paper Wasps

A yellow and black paper wasp building a nest

"Paper wasps" is a kind of a catch-all term that we use to refer to the many species of wasps who build exposed paper nests. All of them belong to the genus Polistes, which is the biggest genus in the family Vespidae.

Most species of paper wasps are predators of other insects, including flies and agricultural pests, and as such probably do a lot more good than harm. They tend to be non-aggressive even in close proximity to humans. You practically have to slap them upside the head to get them to sting you; and because they're solitary wasps, you don't have to worry about the rest of the colony coming after you. Although they may live and build nests close by each other, they're not social wasps. They're just a bunch of individuals who happen to live in the same neighborhood, as it were.

Paper wasps usually build their nests in semi-protected areas such as under soffits and decks, hanging from the ceilings of porches, or around door and window frames. They're not bothered by people passing through the doors or by the windows. In fact, the unsightliness of their nests is probably a bigger nuisance than the wasps themselves.

They are, however, capable of inflicting a nasty sting; so if you or someone in your household is allergic to insect stings, then the wasps need to go. Otherwise, whether or not you choose to treat for paper wasps depends on how annoyed you are by them.

If you have a wasp or bee problem, please contact Pro Zone Pest Control for help solving it. We serve Dayton, Springfield, Northern Cincinnati, and all of Ohio's Miami Valley.