(Various species)

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What are Stinging Insects?

Stinging Insects can be very frightening when they are hovering around you. The very presence of stinging insects makes people feel threatened because of the stinger they have extending from their hind end. When stinging insects are nesting or foraging for food in our yards, their presence can be unnerving and they make enjoying your outdoor space difficult.

Several stinging insects are common in New Jersey: carpenter bees, bald-faced hornets, paper wasps, yellow jackets, mud daubers, and cicada killers.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are large stinging insects and have a black-blue and yellow metallic coloring. At times, people mistake carpenter bees for bumblebees because of the similarity in size and color. The key difference between a carpenter bee and a bumblebee is the abdomen. The carpenter bee’s abdomen is bare and shiny, while fine hair covers a bumble bee’s abdomen.

Bald-Faced Hornet

Despite its descriptive name, the bald-faced hornet is not a hornet; it’s a type of yellow jacket. The bald-faced hornet has characteristic white markings on its face. The white and black coloring distinguishes it from other yellow jackets that are usually yellow and black. Bald-faced hornets feed on caterpillars, spiders, and flies and help control their populations, making them a beneficial species when they aren’t nesting in our yards.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are from the family of Vespidae, and there are over 200 species of paper wasps in the world. They construct nests from paper-like materials. Paper wasps have narrow bodies, slender waists, and black wings; their color depends largely on their species. There are brown wasps with yellow stripes on their abdomen, thorax, and head, and others have a reddish coloring. Paper wasps act as a type of natural pest control because they hunt caterpillars, flies, beetle larvae, crickets, and other insects to feed their larvae.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are notably more aggressive and dominant compared to other stinging insects. True to its name, the yellow jacket has a black and yellow body with yellow markings near the head and bottom half, particularly around the abdomen. Some may have patches of white. These pests have big black eyes, which are almost bulging, and long antennae. Wings rest lengthwise along their body when not in flight. Yellow jackets are a type of predator and feed on flies, beetles, and other insects.

Mud Daubers

Mud Daubers get their name because they construct nests from mud. Their bodies have a bluish-black coloring, with some metallic markings. The adult mud dauber has a narrow waist with a distinctive thread-like segment between the thorax and abdomen, giving it the appearance of having a “stretched” waist. Their long thin wings are either dark or clear. They are a solitary species, meaning that each female will build an individual nest to lay eggs.

Are Stinging Insects Dangerous?

Although hard to believe at times, bees and wasps rarely sting, and when they do, it is because they have been disturbed in some manner. That said, getting stung is painful and can even turn fatal for those people that are highly allergic.

People allergic to stinging insects may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms after a sting:

  • Swollen faces and lips
  • Pains in joints
  • Vomiting
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Increase heart rate
  • Skin flushing

Anyone exhibiting some or all the above should seek medical attention immediately.

The carpenter bee is an example of a stinging insect that is more destructive than dangerous. Males do not have a stinger, and while females have a stinger, they are very docile. Carpenter bees nesting on your property can cause severe damage to wooden structures on your home and property if left untreated.

Why Do I Have A Stinging Insect Problem?

Stinging insects can become a problem on almost any property, whether located in a wooded area, the city, or a rural open area. If there is food, water, and shelter available, there is a species of stinging insect that will take advantage.

In our area, stinging insects tend to be most active during the same times of the year that people spend most of their time outside; spring, summer, and early fall. They are also active during the day when we are. When stinging insects decide to nest in our yards, it puts us into direct contact with them on a daily basis. The more time we spend with stinging insects, the more likely a painful sting will occur.

Where Will I Find Stinging Insects?

Carpenter Bees

In most cases, early in the spring is when carpenter bee activity will start to appear. As carpenter bees begin to emerge from overwintering, mating will occur. Females then begin the nesting process. Carpenter bees are solitary, and each female will create its own nest. However, it is very common for many females to nest in the same area every year.

Carpenter bees do not make nests like other bees and wasps; they chew through the wood to create tunnels that lead to nesting galleries. More specifically, the female carpenter bee will make a quarter to one-half-inch round hole directly into the wood. Under the holes, sawdust will pile up.

Carpenter bees build nests in exposed wood, like house siding, telephone poles, fence posts, decks, railings, facial boards, exposed wood window trim, and even wood furniture.

In most cases, carpenter bees like softer woods like cypress, cedar, pine, or redwood. They also like older or untreated wood but will nest in stained, painted, or pressure-treated wood if necessary.

Bald-Faced Hornet

Every spring, new bald-faced hornet colonies are started by an overwintering queen. The queen chooses a nest location, starts building it, produces an initial group of eggs, and feeds this initial batch of larvae. The larvae turn into workers that continue building the nest and gathering food.

Generally, bald-faced hornet nesting sites include bushes and trees, the sides of buildings, and beneath rock overhangs. The nests are created from a paper-like substance (saliva and plant fibers) and are egg-shaped.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps create nests out of a paper-like material that looks like an upside-down umbrella and has no outer shell. Paper wasps build their nests on window sills, door frames, eaves of houses, branches of trees, old cloth lines, etc. To make the nests, they use plants and animal fiber mixed with saliva and chewed into a paper mache-like material.

Yellow Jackets

The yellow jacket queen will build its nest in the spring with a new nest produced each season. The nest itself resembles the honeycomb of a honey beehive and can become as large as a basketball!

Yellow jackets eat many of the same foods (proteins and sweets) we do and are often very problematic around outdoor eating areas, trash cans, recycling bins, and compost piles.

Some colonies build their nests in trees or on rooftops, while others might go underground to start a nest. Sidewalk cracks, under steps and porches, and in bushes are all places you might find them. Yellow jackets are adaptable and can nest almost anywhere, making avoiding problems with these pests difficult.

Mud Daubers

Like most other species of stinging insects, mud daubers become active in the spring. They create their nests from many short mud tubes constructed side by side. Mud dauber nests are built in sheltered areas and are commonly seen on the sides of homes or on the ground in soft mud. Their nests are also found on chimneys, under porches, in attics, and inside birdhouses.

Cicada Killers

Cicada killers are usually most problematic at the edge of wooded areas, in gardens, grassy areas, and the soil next to sidewalks and foundations. They prefer to be in sunny areas.

After they have mated, the female digs a burrow about six inches deep in the soil. Inside the burrow, the female will make several cells or small oval-shaped chambers. You can typically identify cicada killer nests by the “U”-shaped dirt around the hole.

How Do I Get Rid Of Stinging Insects?

If you are starting to see bees or wasps emerge and hover around your home, call Alliance Pest Services to have your home inspected for seasonal bee and wasp activity. It is better to address this problem at the early stages before someone gets stung.

At Alliance Pest Services, our focus is on meeting each customer’s unique pest control needs. We understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution to pest problems. Our professionals will take the time to get to know you, your home, and your pest control needs in order to protect you and your family from stings.

Dedicated to continually developing new pest control and prevention programs, at Alliance Pest Services, our primary goal is to provide our customers with industry-leading pest control services. If you live in Monmouth County, NJ, and would like to learn more about our stinging insect control options, give us a call today!

How Can I Prevent Stinging Insects In The Future?

In addition to our home pest control and commercial pest control services, protect your property from pests with the following prevention tips:

  • Cut back shrubs and tree branches from the exterior walls of your home.
  • Maintain your lawn and control weeds. Stinging insects love to gather around flowering weeds.
  • Place covers on chimneys, vents, and place screens in windows and doors to keep stinging insects out of your home.
  • Reduce the amount of flowering vegetation planted near your house.
  • Eliminate standing water that will provide a water source for stinging insects and some of the insects they prey on.
  • Clear away things like brush piles, fallen trees, and hollow trees that stinging insects could use as a nesting site.
  • Wear shoes when outside, especially when walking on the grass.
  • Dark-colored clothing attracts wasps; avoid wearing dark colors or wearing heavily scented lotions or perfumes when working outside in garden areas.

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Stinging insects such as yellow-jackets, wasps, hornets and bees, are pests that are common in summer periods which their stings can be very painful. Those who are allergic to stings are at higher risk, although someone can suffer if a large number of them swarm and sting at the same time.

One way to protect yourself and your family from types of stinging insects, such as wasps and hornets this summer, is to ensure your properties are free of hives and nests. On a regular basis, go around outside your home, giving special consideration to the ledges, eaves, the bottom of the porches and the deck for nests. If you found a nest on your property, did not grope to remove it yourself. The colony can become a defensive and mass attack. Instead, contact a qualified pest control specialist who will be able to safely remove the hive.

Types of Stinging Insects

Bumble Bees

Bumble bees are between ¼ – 1 inch in size, they have black and yellow spots, and a fuzzy appearance in general. Bumblebees build their nest out of pollen clumps, usually in the ground or a thick scrub grass, and often in an abandoned mouse nest. Bumblebees are considered useful, as an insect that pollinates flowers. However, they can sting. If the nest is located near a structure, then control is necessary.

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers are long and thin, usually black in color, and can have a metallic luster or pale marking. Mud daubers are single wasps and do not live in colonies. Mud daubers are considered useful insects because they control the spider. However, if their nest is close to human activity, management is a must.

Velvet Ants

The velvet ants are not ants, but wasp species. Female velvet ants are black and hairy, sometimes with areas of bright red, yellow, orange, or white. Males are usually less hairy, but they have wings, unlike females. Velvet ants often live in the types of nests used by wasps and bees that nest on the ground.

Paper Wasp

Paper wasp, a type of wasp species, is brownish with yellow spots or reddish markings. Wasp paper was named from the paper-like material, from which they build their nests. The nests often hung on twigs and branches of trees as well as porch ceilings, desk floor joints, railings, etc. If the nest is touched, there is a high probability that you will get stung. Paper wasps are considered useful insects because they control many kinds of insect pest. However, if their nest is near the building, control is warranted.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are 1/2 – 1 inch in size. They look like a bumblebee, but the upper part of the abdomen is mostly bare and shiny. They do not live in nests or colonies. They make holes into wood, where they make tunnels for raising children. They prefer the decomposition or aged wood than a new or painted wood. Carpenter bees represent a serious hazard and can cause structural damage over time if they are not removed. The female carpenter bees have a powerful bite that is rarely used.


Bees range from 1 / 2-5 / 8 inches in size and are orange-brown or black in color. Bees are social insects, and live in colonies like hives, with mature colonies of 20,000 to 80,000 individuals. Bees are peaceful and do not look for something to attack rather they defend themselves and will backfire only what appears to threaten the colony.

Bald-faced Hornets

Bald-faced Hornets are mostly black, with a white face mostly. Hornets are daring to build aerial nests in a paper box. Nests are usually found in open spaces, often in trees, lampposts, rocks or other structures. The nests can be large enough that grows to 14 inches in diameter and 24 inches in length. Bald-faced hornets are useful insects because they control many types of pests. However, if their nest is near the structure, control is necessary.

Hornets of Europe

European hornets are large, between ¾ and more than 1 inch. They are brown with yellow stripes and abdominal pale face. European hornets build nests of cardboard, which are usually covered with a brown paper bag as protection. Nests can be found in tree hollows, barns, buildings, hollow walls of houses and attics. European hornets are considered useful insects because they control many types of pests. However, if their nest is near the structure, control is guaranteed.


Yellowjackets have a black and yellow color pattern, as well as between 3/8 – 5/8 inches in size. Yellowjackets live in nests built in a paper box that can grow to the size of basketball. The nest will contain a series of rounded paper honeycombs attached to each other and covered with a multitude of layers. Depending on the species, the nest may be close to the ground, Yellowjackets are slow sting unless their nests are tempered with. Yellowjackets are considered useful insects because they control many kinds of insect pests. However, if their nest is near the structure, control is warranted.

Remember that we do not recommend to attempt to remove stinging insect nest on your own which can be very dangerous. Instead, get a licensed pest professional to access your property and nest to determine the type of stinging insects (such as a wasp or other dangerous sting), and determine the best way to eliminate the threat to your family.

Call Alliance Pest Services today for all your bee and wasp pest problems.  

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