If you picture yellow and black furry little flying creatures when you think of the word “bee”, that’s because you’re probably thinking of honey bees and bumblebees which are some of the most popular types of bees in the United States.
What’s called the Black Bee actually refers to a number of bee species that are black or mostly black in color. Common types of black bees found in the US are types of carpenter bees, of the genus Xylocopa, which includes around 500 types of other bees.
Many species of Xylocopa are difficult to tell apart, but most of them are all black or primarily black in color with some yellow or white hairs.
Some people even confuse carpenter bees (ones with less black coloring) to bumblebees, but a key difference is that carpenter bees have a shinier abdomen, whereas bumblebees have a much hairier abdomen.
Unlike the honey and bumble bee, the carpenter bee only has a small portion of hair on its middle abdomen, while their lower abdomen has little to no hair and appears to be black and shiny. As mentioned earlier, most carpenter bees are all black or primarily black with some yellow (or white) coloring, typically only on their head.
They have mandibles or chewing parts on the front of their head used for drilling through wood where they make their nests.
They have 4 hairy black legs, antennae, and are typically about an inch long.
The female Valley Carpenter Bee is slightly smaller at about a quarter of an inch long. They are black with a metallic sheen (male valley carpenter bees are a more golden brown in color).
Both male and female Mountain Carpenter bees are black (though males may have yellow or white hairs on their heads) and are about half an inch long.
Other notable black bees that are not carpenter bees are the Leafcutting Bees and the Mining Bees.
Black bees such as carpenter bees are solitary, so that means they don’t gather and form a colony. The female will tunnel into wood – usually a dead tree, or firewood, or the side or wooden part of a house – and lay her eggs there. She’ll create small circle “apartments”, about 6 to 10 in total, laying eggs in each one and closing off each excavated cell with regurgitated wood pulp. These cells house individual eggs, and in each one she leaves behind a ball of pollen which serves as a food source for the larvae that hatch and mature over several weeks. Eventually, they’ll chew their way out of the place.
While the female bee is setting her kids up for eventual success, the male bee will be out and about patrolling and guarding the area even though, interestingly, the male carpenter bee doesn’t have a stinger and is harmless to humans.
Once this is all done, the pair move on and will die within a few weeks.
You may spot an entrance to a carpenter bee nest by its opening, which is an almost perfect circle about the size of the diameter of your little finger.
BEHAVIOR AND DIET:
While they chew a lot of wood, they don’t actually eat it for nutrition. They eat pollen and nectar from flowering plants.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE THEY?
Male carpenter bees don’t have stingers, and as such, can’t sting humans. Females do, but they’re very docile creatures and will rarely sting – only if they feel extremely threatened.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
Carpenter bees may reuse old tunnels and sometimes expand them in the process, so if they’ve chosen to nest in your home, this could be significant wood damage over the years.
It’s a good idea to close off any old nests they have – plug the holes with carpenter’s glue or any suitable sealant so future carpenter bees won’t be able to reuse them. This also eliminates moisture intrusion and helps against wood decay.
Another thing to keep in mind is that carpenter bees prefer to tunnel through bare wood – they typically stay away from painted wood. While less reliable, wood that’s been treated with chemicals like stains and preservatives also fare better than bare wood.
If you have a bee problem on your property, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pest control for help.
Hornets commonly get confused for wasps, and that’s because they’re actually a type of wasp themselves. They’re the largest of the social wasps, and can reach over 2 inches in length.
If you’ve read our previous blog entry Bees Versus Wasps, you’d know wasps are essentially bigger and meaner than bees. Well, hornets are essentially bigger and meaner than wasps! The good news is that the only hornet species to live in the US is the European hornet, and they aren’t as aggressive as other hornet types.
In this blog entry, we’ll be taking a look at some of the key differences between the two in several key categories.
Wasps – while they can range in size depending on age and species, they’re typically a quarter of an inch to an inch long. They vary in color, but one of the most common wasps are yellowjacket wasps (often mistaken for bees), and they have shiny yellow and black striped bodies. They have 2 antennae, 2 sets of wings and 6 legs, and an hourglass or “pinched-in” waists.
They have mandibles or chewing mouthparts, and ovipositors or stingers which they use to sting when threatened, and to lay eggs.
Hornets – while other hornet species can grow to be over 2 inches, the European hornet can grow to be about an inch and a half long. They’re brown with yellow and orange stripes. They have 2 antennae, 2 sets of golden-brown wings, and 6 legs. Similar to wasps, they also have an hourglass or “pinched-in” waists.
They also have mandibles and ovipositors.
Wasps – they can build nests on the ground (such as yellowjacket wasps) or they can build nests hanging from trees (such as what paper wasps build). These nests are typically straw-colored or grayish, and may appear papery depending on the species. They are typically ball-shaped.
There may be hexagonal cells inside the wasp nest, but you really shouldn’t go close enough to look (even if you think it’s an abandoned nest).
Hornets – very similar to the wasp nest described above, hornet nests are oval-shaped and may appear to be made out of paper. It’s not actually paper though, but is a paper-like substance made from a mixture of their saliva and wood. Unlike some wasps that can build their nest on the ground, hornet nests are usually high above ground, such as a tree or utility pole.
Both wasps and hornets can be found nesting in attics, verandas, ceilings, and similar structures in and around people’s homes.
BEHAVIOR AND DIET:
Both wasps and hornets are generally scavengers, and will feed on other insects, decaying fruit, or human food left lying around. Wasps generally have more of a sweet tooth than their hornet relatives.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE THEY?
Both wasp and hornet stings may be painful and cause redness, swelling, and itchiness. If a person is stung and they develop a rash or they start to wheeze and have trouble breathing, they may be having an allergic reaction – in which case, they need immediate medical attention.
Unlike bees (they can only sting once), wasps and hornets can sting multiple times, making them so much more dangerous. The more there are in the area, the more danger you are in – so avoid “threatening” them by going near their nests.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
Don’t have readily available food sources in and around your home that makes your property just a little bit more inviting for them. Other than that, we strongly suggest not taking care of the problem yourself – get in touch with your local pest control company so they can safely get rid of wasps and hornets for you.
Yellow sac spiders – also called Cheiracanthium – are typically pale in color, and have an abdomen that may range from a slightly greenish yellow to beige.
They have a lance-shaped mark from their waists (where their abdomen meets their cephalothorax) that runs down mid-point of the abdomen, and they have dark-colored fangs and feet (because of this, they’re also sometimes called the “Black-Footed Spider”).
Their chelicerae, or fangs, point diagonally forward and cross in a pinching action, as opposed to fangs pointing straight down that you may find in other spiders.
They have eight dark eyes sized similarly and arranged in two horizontal rows.
They’re small spiders at only about a quarter of an inch for both males and females, with males being more slender and with a slightly longer leg span of up to an inch. The front legs are the longest.
Yellow sac spiders don’t build your typical spider web and instead construct sac-like web structures often found in protected areas such as within leaves, under logs or at the junctions between walls and ceilings (they’re often found inside homes, and one species of yellow sac spider is a common house spider).
These nest sites are also where they molt, mate, lay eggs, and hibernate.
BEHAVIOR AND DIET:
They’re nocturnal spiders and only hunt at night. They don’t have spider webs where they wait for prey to catch, and instead actively hunt their prey.
While they actively hunt arthropods, even spiders larger than themselves, they are not particular about what they eat and will hunt just about any small insect. They also eat insect eggs, If they fail to find other food sources, they can also turn cannibalistic and consume their own eggs.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE THEY?
Even though they’re quite small, their fangs can easily penetrate human skin and their bites are mildly venomous to humans.
There are many species of yellow sac spider, and they all have venom with necrotic properties (though none are as potent as the infamous brown recluse spider). Their bite can be quite painful, and cause swelling and lesions. Other reactions may be slow-healing sores and itchiness (it may be interesting to note that a lot of reported Brown Recluse spider bites may actually be from yellow sac spiders, since the symptoms are much less severe).
The good news is that there are no reported fatalities from yellow sac spider bites.
WHEN ARE THEY MOST ACTIVE:
Male yellow sac spiders will look for females to breed with during the early summer. They only mate once but produce as many as five egg sacs, each sac containing approximately 40 eggs.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
Seal or caulk cracks along your walls.
Use weather stripping on doors and windows.
Use nets on windows, and any outside vents.
Remove clutter that may serve as harborage for spiders.
Keep your home clean and insect free to minimize their food source.
If you think you have a spider infestation in your home, get in touch with your local pest control company right away!
Polistes Carolina, or the red wasp, is one of two types of red paper wasp. The Red Wasp is native to the United States, most prevalent in the Eastern and Mideastern regions of the country. Their common name is because of their reddish-brown coloring, and they have dark-colored wings, a brown stripe on their abdomen, and very restricted yellow markings. They are about an inch in length, with females having more triangular faces and shorter antennae.
They’re known to construct some of the largest nests of any wasp species, their umbrella-shaped honeycombed- looking nests hanging from branches, trees, and other such structures and they often prefer protected spaces so you may find them around your home.
These wasps create their papery nests from chewing and regurgitating harvested wood and plant fibers. They don’t actually eat these wood and plant fibers – their diet consists of flies, spiders, caterpillars, bees, and other wasps. They also eat nectar from flowers and plants, and are actually fond of sweet foods so you may find them hanging around discarded human food as well.
The Red Wasp is a social wasp and will attack to defend, though they are considered to be a nuisance pest and not dangerous unless you’re allergic to stings – regardless, their stings are painful (may be a sharp, burning sensation for you), so it’s best you stay clear of them altogether. An interesting sting about Red Wasps is that they release pheromones to alert other wasps in the area of danger, and they can quickly swarm you – so if you’ll attempt to get rid of their nest by yourself, be very careful! Or better yet, get in touch with a professional pest control company to do it safely for you.
They are most active during the day, so it’s best to attempt to remove the wasp nest during dusk and nighttime hours, and they are more lethargic in cooler temperatures.
If you get stung by a wasp and you have an allergic reaction, some of these symptoms may be: hives, itching, flushed or pale skin, swelling of throat and tongue, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you experience these, seek medical attention immediately. More extreme symptoms may be a weak, rapid pulse and loss of consciousness. While these extreme symptoms are rare, they can be fatal.
The young and the elderly may be especially susceptible to the effects of a Red Wasp’s sting, as they do inject venom into their victims when stinging. The more stings a person gets, the more their risks of such shock increases. If you’re not exhibiting an allergic reaction, relieve the pain using cold compresses and take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. If you experience localized swelling from the sting, take an antihistamine to reduce it.
Open or hollow spaces on the outside of your house may attract wasps seeking to build their nests, and open waste bins, garbage receptacles, and compost serve as food sources for them so make sure you keep those covered properly. If you have a Red Wasp infestation, be safe and have them professionally removed.
Stink bugs are called as such because they emit a pungent odor when they get disturbed or feel threatened (similar to skunks), or when their bodies are crushed. Descriptions of this odor vary widely, with some describing the smell as dusty, earthy, woody, oily, or like coriander. If you detect a coriander-like scent in your home and you don’t know where it’s coming from, it’s possible you may have a stink bug infestation. In some species of stink bugs, this defensive pungent spray contains cyanide compounds with a rancid almond scent.
The stink bug is also commonly referred to as a shield bug due to shape of its body.
There are more than 200 kinds of these bugs that call North America their home, and their diet consists of plants, crops, and fruits, and are usually a pest to owners of gardens and farmsthough they will also nest in homes especially during winter time, often staying hidden in walls or in quiet places inside your house until spring when they become more active again.
The most common type of stink bug is the Brown MarmoratedStink Bug. It is an invasive species and is found in 44 states (and the District of Columbia) throughout the US. It’s a mottled grayish-brown and is ¾ of an inch long. It has 6 legs splayed outward that makes it look larger, 2 straight antennae, and is triangular in shape. They have wings that stay folded, so it’s easy to miss that adult stink bugs are actually pretty good flies (nymphs do not have fully developed wings).
They are not known to cause structural damage nor do they carry diseases dangerous to humans and pets, but they are destructive to agriculture and an infestation of stink bugs also mean more food for other pests that feed on them (spiders, birds, bats, and parasitic flies to name a few).
A DIY approach for getting rid of stink bugs would be vacuuming them or leaving trays with soapy water (this mixture kills them and leaves no defensive spray for you to deal with). You can also spray them with it directly. Regularly vacuuming not only clears your house of dust and debris, but a number of other pests (such as stink bugs) get sucked in too. Squish them only as a last resort, as the stench they release lingers for some time.
To help make sure stink bugs don’t get in your home, inspect your property and seal off any cracks and crevices on your walls. Install window screens and use weather strips on doors. Make sure to install screens on any outside vent too. These not only deter stink bugs, but a myriad of other pests as well.
Regularly check your property every 3 months to reseal cracks and crevices and repair screens.
If you have a stink bug infestation, or need help getting rid of other pests, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a pest control company for assistance!
Agelenopsis, or American grass spiders, are so-called because they’re commonly found in grass and shrubs. They are quite small, with females being around 10 to 20 millimeters and males being slightly smaller than that.
They’re often mistaken for Wolf spiders, or even the more dangerous Hobo spiders because they can be quite similar in appearance – grass spiders have a similar color pattern on their cephalothorax or head region. They are tan in color, and have two darker lines running down on each side(though these lines aren’t quite as thick as the lines you’ll find on Wolf spiders). A distinctive pattern found on their abdomens that distinguish Grass spiders from Wolf spiders would be light chevrons, or inverted triangles. Another thing is if you find what you think is a Wolf spider near a funnel web, that may be a Grass spider as Wolf spiders live in burrows.
Unlike the Hobo and Wolf spiders that have very painful bites, the Grass spider does not possess venom poisonous or toxic to humans. In fact, their fangs are so small that they have difficulty penetrating our skin. They are very shy, and very fast – so Grass spiders rarely end up biting humans since they very quickly move out of the unsuspecting human’s way.
Grass spiders are a genus of funnel weavers, and belong to the family of Funnel Web Weavers, so-called because they build sheet-like webs with a funnel at one end. The grass spider then sits at the end of the web and waits for prey. Their web isn’t sticky, but Grass spiders make up for it with their speed in catching prey that stumble on their nest, scurrying to bite and paralyze its victim to later consume at its leisure.
Only female Grass spiders make funnel webs, while males spend their time wandering in search of females to mate with. Once they mate, they die shortly after. The females then bide their time and build their strength until they give birth in the fall, depositing their egg sacs in narrow areas such as between rocks near their nests. Sometimes the egg sacs can be found on the edge of their webs, but sometimes these eggs can be found beside their dried up mother, whose arms may still be clinging to her yet to hatch children.
When they do hatch in the spring, they will build their own nests spread away from one another, nests that will increase in size as the spider grows. These webs are most visible after a rain, when raindrops still cling to the silk and reflect light. Try spotting one in your own backyard. While they are commonly found among blades of grass, they can also be found on weeds, shrubs, ground covers, bushes, and brush piles to name a few.While they prefer the outdoors, you may find them seeking shelter indoors (and in your own home) in autumn when temperatures drop.
Grass spiders are considered beneficial since they are quite harmless to humans and feed on pests found in our homes – but if you do find yourself infested, don’t hesitate to reach out to a pest control company for assistance in dealing with Grass spiders and other pests.