Typical Pest Species: Bees & Wasps

Hymenoptera, which in English means bees and wasps. Most are beneficial insects although that point would no doubt be argued by anyone who has accidentally walked into a hornets nest. Even the most beneficial of the group, the honey bee, at times manages to build hives inside of living room walls and if they cannot be removed alive, must be destroyed.

Honey Bees

Honey bees are found throughout the United States and the world. They are the most economically important beneficial insect there is. They supply us with honey, beeswax, and most importantly the pollination of many cropbearing plants. It is estimated that honey bees are involved with 80% of the foods consumed by Americans. They are a social insect living in large colonies from 20-80 thousand individuals.

They are for the most part domesticated and are kept in hives by bee keepers. When swarming they often establish hives in tree trunks, old buildings, etc., but they are not far removed from the domestic bees. There are several species of honey bees the most common and gentle of which is the Italian honey bee. However, on cloudy days when they are unable to collect nectar, or if provoked, even the most gentle will sting.

The sting of the honey bee hurts and eventually itches,but unless you are allergic, leaves only a healthy wariness to future stings. It is much worse for the bee. The stinger and much of its abdomen are torn from its body killing the bee. Much care is taken by everyone in our industry to avoid killing honey bees. Manufacturers of pesticides warn on the label if the chemical is toxic to bees and how to avoid contact with them. Professional users heed the label and plan applications to avoid killing honey bees. However, occasionally honey bees swarm at mating season and inadvertently form a colony inside a house or some other area shared by humans. If a beekeeper cannot remove them alive, we may be called.

There are numerous pesticides that will kill bees. In walls, insecticide dusts are the most effective, but each colony and structure is unique and would need to be looked at.

Prior to calling a pest control company or killing them yourself, contact either the county agent or department of agriculture. Frequently they have lists of beekeepers in the area that will remove the bees at no charge.

Yellow Jackets

Yellowjackets are also a social insect. They are beneficial but not nearly to the degree that honey bees are. Yellowjackets can sting repeatedly without causing death to themselves. There are a variety of species of yellowjackets, the most common in the midwest is ironically called the “Common Yellowjacket”.

They usually nest in the ground but sometimes in attics and sides of buildings. When inadvertently molested the insect will attack and can cause death if enough stings occur to a susceptible person. When their nests are found, usually by someone cutting grass or weeding in mulch areas, control is a necessity.

In ground, the nests are below the surface with a small hole as an entrance. Insecticide liquid, dust, or aerosol can be applied through the hole or saturate the ground. Once treated it should remain open until foraging insects return to be sure the colony is eliminated. The application can be a little tricky as the bees are constantly in and out, and tend to frown on intruders. If you are allergic or just don’t like to be stung I would a pest control company.


There are many species of these vicious multi stinging insects, the most common found in cosmopolitan areas is the “Bald Face Hornet.” As seen in the picture, their nests are football shaped paper surrounding their breeding combs. As the colony grows, so does the nest. They are found in trees, shrubs, under eves of houses, and attics.

To accidentally come to close or break a nest is devastating as Briar Bear discovered at Briar Rabbits “Laughin Place.”(One would have to be a Disney fan or Uncle Remas fan to understand.) When touched, broken, or just to close, hundreds of hornets will attack and sting. Running will not help, they will chase you. Diving in a swimming pool will help you avoid them but they hover above the water waiting for you to come up for air. (An experience from my early days in pest control). They are dangerous and control should not be attempted without the proper equipment.

Many insecticides will kill hornets, the application is the trick. Wasp freeze will work at a distance and drop them immediately but you’ll need more than one can. We find that power sprayers with a pyrethriod mixture is very effective, plus the force from the sprayer will break open the nest killing them all, as well as the immature larvae. They are so protective, the hornets will attempt to sting the stream of chemical coming at them.

Mud Dauber

Are so named because their nests, or brood chambers, are formed of mud. These nests are usually found in attics, garages, barns, above front doors, under eves, etc. The wasp itself rarely causes any problem unless a nuisance while building their nest. Once built, the female captures spiders to put in the chambers then lays her eggs, then seals off the opening. The young feed on the spider until mature enough to leave the nest.

A majority of the calls we get concerning mud daubers is usually a case of mistaken identity. Other wasps are seen and it is assumed they come from the mud daubers nest.

Removal or the nest is usually a good control measure. If there are holes in the nest that means either their lifecycle is complete, or birds have eaten them. In either case, the nest is empty. I’ve found you will need a putty knife to get them off. Once removed, treatment with an insecticide dust or liquid will prevent them from building in that area again.

Paper Wasps

There are two main varieties of paper wasps in Kansas and Missouri. The one on the left is Polistes fuscatus. The other Polistes dominulus has no yellow in it and is darker reddish brown. They form similar nests as seen in the picture. There are from two to two thousand cells per nest. They are found under eves, in attics, behind shutters, under decks, in chimneys etc. The wasps sting when provoked or they feel their nests are threatened.

Control can be achieved by killing the wasps when in their nest and destroying the nest. Wasp freeze or many other insecticides will kill them. It is often difficult to reach them and power equipment may be necessary, or ladders. In which case, call us.