A wasp is considered any insect in the Hymenoptera order under the sub order of Apocrita which can neither be defined as a bee or as an ant. These are common summertime insects that have a proclivity for stinging threats to their colonies. In the United States there are 4,000 wasp species which exist as other insects without inhabiting human dwellings. However, there are three types of wasps that are considered pest. These are the
- Yellow jackets
- Paper wasps
Although wasps are close cousins to bees the two don’t belong to the same subgroup. Unlike bees they are predators that eat other insects. Also some wasps like to build their nests near human dwellings so that they can benefit from human activities like growing crops and structures with wood as the primary construction material. Such wasps chew up wood and use the chewed material to make their nests.
As described above these wasps will chew the wood on human structures and build paper nests from the material after chewing. Adult paper wasps grow to be around 20 mm in length and they have reddish to deep brown color with some species having yellow markings on them. They are also called vespid wasps and they have longer legs that seem to hand off their body in flight.
Although these wasps are known for their sting they can also be a welcome presence especially if you have a garden or patch with flowers and vegetables. They will eat the insects that may be destroying your crop and maintain the balance of nature.
Yellow jackets are yellow and black but unlike the yellow and black paper wasps they are stockier with shorter legs. These wasps are predominant in North America and they tend to have a love for roaming the wild and will only approach human settlements when looking for food. If you have left food opened outdoors they will probably find their way to it.
Yellow jackets prefer to make their nests lower to the ground compared to other species that love to hide in the heights of the trees. Their natural habitat is the edge of the woods or forest and they typically east nectar and insects as well. They will pre-chew the insects to make it easier for their larvae to feed on it. Female yellow hornets are the most aggressive of the species and they also tend to be very territorial. They can sting repeatedly because their stinger doesn’t come off like bees.
Hornets are the largest wasps but not the most aggressive of the wasp species. They can be mistaken for their close cousins the yellow jackets who by the way are the most aggressive members of the species. Hornets do have the most painful sting though and when dealing with a species like the Japanese hornets one is likely in far greater danger of experiencing multiple stings. Some species are more aggressive than others like the Japanese hornets and these have been know even attack bee populations and kill off the bees.
It is hard to associate bees with friendless, if anything they are often synonymous with aggression. But that is the general assumption because most people are only familiar with honey bees. They would not be at fault to think that the same aggression that honey bees show would also apply to ground bees. After all it is better to be safe than sorry.
That said, the modus operandi of ground bees is far different than that of the honey bees. In fact the only thing they may have in common is that they look almost similar to the European honey bee. When your eye catches a ground bee in flight or on a flower sucking on nectar, you would figure it’s just another honey bee.
Are ground bees common?
Ground bees are very common. The overall number of species of bees in North America alone is approximately 4000 species. Of these, the ground bee takes the lion’s share by accounting for a whooping 70%.
The ground bees are most active during spring. Spring is beautiful but most people could do without the wasps and the yellow jackets that come with it.
Ground bees do not live in hives but instead build burrows on the ground. The females which are solitary prefer to dig their individual nest separate but close to other members of the colony. Their soil of choice for nesting is one that is poor, dry, loose and open such as soil with a high sand content. The females raise their eggs individually. Their nests can be easily mistaken for ant hills but upon closer inspection it becomes apparent that they are conical in shape and above ground. These small mounds will disappear when spring passes and water passes through them.
The ground bee males do not have a stinger and are totally incapable of causing you any harm. Their demeanor might seem aggressive as they hover around the nesting area looking for females to mate with but they are virtually harmless. The females are docile and although they do have a sting, they are not aggressive and will only sting if handled.
So the next time you see conical shaped nests on your backyard and bees hovering around, you will know that you have some friendlies and there is no need to get alarmed. They are extremely beneficial in aerating the soil as well as pollinating plants and shrubs such as apple trees, cherries and blue berries.
Do ground beef make honey?
Ground bees do not make honey as they do not live in hives. Honey bees on the other hand are social, they live in a hive and produce honey in addition to sharing resources such as their queen. Honey bees raise their young in a hive communally.
With that in mind, it becomes clear why honey bees are aggressive stingers and have the need to protect their shared resource. Ground bees are starkly different from the honey bee as they have no resources to protect.
Pesticides are not necessary to chase away ground bees. Since they do not like wet soil, wetting the soil with some water will encourage them to go nest elsewhere.
There are very few people if any at all who can say that they find hornets endearing. That because the only way a hornet is likely to endear itself to you is by a lashing sting so painful, enough to send a grown man screaming and seeking the nearest cover. A Japanese hornet can decimate 40 bees under a minute when it invades their colony. It is one of the worst enemies to any bee colony except the Japanese bee which has learnt to repulse these hornet attacks by creating heat balls from their flapping wings.
What is the Japanese hornet?
There are hornets and then there is the Japanese hornet. While no one would want to mess with any hornets nest, trust us when we tell you that no one in their right mind would even want to get close to the Japanese hornet.
The Japanese hornet is considered a giant because of it imposing size. For context and perspective, let’s consider the range of size in bees. The tiny stingless bee species workers grow less than 2 millimeters or 0.08 inches long while the female Megachilepluto which is considered to be the largest species of leafcutter bees can achieve a length of 39 millimeters or 1.54 inches. The Japanese hornets grow to be about 1.5 inches to 2 inches. The Japanese hornet queens are said to be significantly larger. This may not sound like a huge difference in size to a human being but in the scale of smaller insects, they are basically two to three times the size of different bee species and that is a massive difference. Should one have the misfortune of being stung by a Japanese hornet, your record will reflect that the difference in pain is several notches higher than that of a bee or wasp. It is often compared to being shot by a nail gun.
They deliver more venom per sting and therefore if attacked by a swarm it may be fatal if one fails to get to a hospital in time. Often victims die from anaphylactic shock if medical attention is not administered immediately. In Japan, these hornets are responsible for more deaths in a year than any other animal in Japan. Poisonous snakes kill about 10 people a year while Japan’s hornets kill approximately 40 people a year.
Japanese hornets are often mistaken for their larger cousins known as the Asian giant hornet. But in fact the Japanese hornet is slightly smaller than their counterpart and is a subspecies of the Asian giant hornet. Other than size the other difference is that the Japanese hornet is that is exclusive to Japan whereas the Asian giant hornet is found in far much larger geography across Asia including Nepal, China, Taiwan and Mongolia.
The Japanese hornets are not all doom and gloom as they are known to be beneficial to farmers because of the voracious appetite for bugs and insects around the farm. They are not aggressive unless provoked
Bee sting remedy can be complicated in some ways but it can also be easy. It just depends on which type of treatment you try.
If you have a good homeopathic home prescribing kit, then you will find your treatment pretty straight forward.
And, it doesn’t matter if it’s you, another member of your family, a friend or an animal who needs it. You will be able to treat it effectively.
Insect bites may also cause anaphylactic shock. This is when your immune system is so compromised, you can’t deal with an insect bite the way other people can. The swelling becomes out of proportion to the cause.
If the swelling is around your throat, that’s going to cause you anxiety about restricted breathing. Apis is the first homeopathic medicine of choice for anaphylactic shock. Not only will it resolve your current problem, but it will also make the next episode less intense.
Using the homeopathic medicine Apis for your bee sting treatment will improve your immune system as well.
Bee Sting In Kids
If you are a parent, guardian, or another adult that works closely with children, it is important to learn how to recognize an allergic reaction to a bee sting in children.
There are three unique reactions that a child may experience when they suffer from a bee sting:
- The first is the “norm”, which means that there will be a certain degree of pain and there will also be inflammation and discoloration at the site where the sting occurred.
- The second reaction is “localized”, which means more severe degrees of swelling will be experienced.
- The last is “allergic” and this could prove to be fatal and requires the immediate attention of a medical professional.
There are many symptoms that will become apparent if a child is experiencing an allergy to a bee sting. These symptoms may include any or all of the following:
- The child may appear as if they are experiencing complications associated with breathing.
- A rash may become apparent on the skin. This is due to the moisture lost through the skin.
- You may notice that the child appears off-balance and when asked, they may state that they are experiencing dizziness.
- Swelling may occur around the face area. It is often common for swelling to occur in the throat as well as in the mouth area.
- The child may not be able to swallow appropriately.
- Extreme anxiousness.
- It is not at all uncommon to find that the child becomes completely restless.
If you know that your child or a child that you are responsible for has been stung by a bee, it is important to understand that the insect leaves a small pouch of venom along with a stinger in the skin where the sting occurred.
You should work to scrape whatever was left behind out. It is imperative to avoid trying to push it up through the skin or squeeze it as this will allow more of the potentially fatal venom to go into the sting.
If a child starts to exhibit any unusual symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.
While Spring is a time for blooming flowers and warm sunny days, it’s also a time for bees and bee sting.
For many people, bee stings are nothing more than a painful irritation that passes within a few hours. However, for more than two million Americans who suffer from bee sting allergies, the reaction from a bee sting can be far more intense.
Symptoms of bee allergies may include hives, itching, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure and in a few cases, anaphylactic shock.
Because traditional insect repellents won’t prevent bee stings, it’s important to know what does work and how to treat bee stings, from the minor to the severe.
What to do for a bee sting?
Bee stings can be extremely agonizing and in a few instances, even fatal. Bees inject poison from a stinger under the skin of the individual they sting.
Unlike wasps that have stingers that withdraw after stinging, bees have barbed stingers that remain in the skin.
The barb has a venom sack attached that can go on to inject poison for up to 3 minutes if it is not removed. Roughly 3% of the persons stung by bees experience an allergic reaction and just around 0.8% have an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
People who are not allergic to bee stings will experience swelling and itching at and near the area, they were stung. The skin will become red and very painful.
These reactions may last for up to seven days. If there is an allergic reaction, hives, redness, and swelling can form all over the body. They can also experience swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and imbalance.
People suffering from an anaphylactic reaction may experience difficulty breathing, and a drop in blood pressure that will lead to shock if not treated immediately.
50 persons die each year from such reactions to bee stings. Anaphylactic reactions will occur within a few minutes of the actual sting. If someone who is allergic is stung more than once, their reaction will worsen each time.
Prevent bee stings by taking the following precautions:
- Don’t wear brightly colored clothes or floral prints as bees are attracted to vibrant colors.
- Bees are also attracted to sweet scents, so avoid wearing fragrances, lotions, shampoos, and cosmetics.
- Sweet food and drinks are well-known for enticing bees, especially canned soda drinks. The tiny insect will climb in the opening and may sting if someone unwittingly takes a sip.
- Always wear shoes outdoors especially when walking in the grass. Bees are attracted to the white clover weed that is found in most lawns.
- Bees are not typically aggressive insects and their stingers are used in defense. If a bee flies a little too-close-for-comfort, just hold still. Quick movement may frighten the bee into stinging.
Minor bee stings are easily treated by removing the stinger immediately. Next, place a cold compress on the infected area. If minor itching occurs, use antihistamine or calamine lotion.
Applying ammonia, or a paste of baking soda and water to the affected area will produce a similar result. While swelling may not be noticeable until the next day, most pain caused by bee stings will dissipate within two hours.
If more serious reactions occur such as vomiting, dizziness or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical care. You should also seek immediate treatment if there are ten or more stings.
Or, if the sting is located in the nose or mouth as swelling may inhibit breathing.
A good first aid class should cover the basic things that can cause anaphylactic shock, which a wasp bite or sting can cause.
Anaphylactic shock is when the body overreacts to a protein that it comes in contact with or gets inhaled, ingested or injected, which is the case with wasp stings.
Anaphylaxis will affect multiple organs involving the whole body rather than just the area where the sting occurred. When the lungs or throat are affected breathing can be restricted to the point of respiratory arrest.
Death from anaphylactic shock is a real possibility for those who are allergic to the stings of insects such as wasps, hornets or bees. Most people with such severe allergies carry what is known as an Epi-pen which is a dose of epinephrine that can be easily administered by anyone who reads the instructions on the injector.
Unlike a bee which has a barbed stinger and can usually only sting once since the stinger gets stuck in the victim, a wasp can sting multiple times in multiple places.
A wasp sting is not technically worse. It only can produce a certain amount of venom which is usually less than that of a bee. A bee’s stinger is left behind by the bee with venom sacs still attached that will pump out all of the volumes of venom into the area of the sting.
Treating a wasp sting can be conditional depending on where the sting occurred, how many times a person was stung, how many wasps were stinging the person and if the person begins to show symptoms of anaphylactic shock.
A single sting to the hand is different than a sting inside the mouth which usually results from a person drinking from a bottle or can that was left uncovered while outdoors.
If there is any indication of breathing restriction, stand ready to administer artificial respirations for the victim while en route to the nearest emergency medical facility.
Wasps can get underneath clothing and continue to sting a victim who may be unconscious. Assess even a conscious victim to find where the stings occurred.
For a solitary sting that does not produce a major allergic response leading to dangerous anaphylactic shock, there is not a whole lot that can be done do minimize the pain of the sting.
Cleaning the area with soap and water to reduce the risk of secondary infection is a good idea. Cool water, in this case, will be better than hot water followed by treatment with an ice pack to minimize swelling.
Apply an ice pack to the area of the sting for 15 to 20 minutes each hour until the swelling is controlled.
Apply an antibiotic spray, cream or ointment to the site of the sting to help minimize secondary infection. If the victim has safely taken the over-the-counter antihistamine diphenhydramine, then it should be considered to help reduce itching at the sting site.
Over-the-counter pain medications that the victim has safely taken in the past should be considered to reduce the level of pain suffered from a wasp sting.
As emphasized in a good first aid class, anaphylactic shock is life-threatening. Symptoms usually occur within the first hour after the sting.
If the victim is having difficulty breathing, develops a rash or hives, has a large area of swelling at the sting site, has swelling beginning to occur anywhere else such as in the throat, or is experiencing a diminished level of consciousness emergency medical treatment should be sought immediately.
Any sting to the eye, throat or anywhere inside the mouth should be evaluated by medical personnel. Multiple stings should also be evaluated.
Even a person who has never shown any signs of being allergic to stings in the past may now have an allergy due to being stung prior. It is a good idea to immediately head toward an emergency medical facility when anyone is stung by a wasp.
It is better to be closer to a facility with advanced life support capability while carrying out the basic first aid procedure just in case anaphylaxis begins especially in that first hour after the sting.
There are many different kinds of wasps that may be pestering you and your family.
While the various species can usually be identified as either social or solitary wasps, the main varieties that cause concern are yellow jackets and hornets.
Moreover, wasps can actually provide a number of benefits as they kill many kinds of plant-eating insects. Still, because wasps aggressively defend their nests, you may find the need to consult professional pest control services.
Types of Wasps
Before we talk about wasp control, let’s quickly discuss the different kinds of wasps you might encounter.
- Paper Wasps
The paper wasp is among the least harmful wasp, and they are usually unlikely to sting. Their nests are very unique as they do not have an outer shell like most bee and wasp nests.
You will probably recognize hornets as they are large and very imposing. Still, hornets are not typically as aggressive as yellow jackets. Hornets usually feed between dusk and dawn and the most common hornet wasp in North America.
Finally, yellowjackets are identifiable by their thick waists and bright yellow colorings. These wasps are the most territorial and subsequently the most aggressive; they can sting multiple times and are especially apt to do so when defending their nests.
Even though we are prone to fear wasps, we can usually prevent problems by simply avoiding them and especially their nests.
Still, if a nest is very close to your home, or even formed somewhere in the structure of your home, you will want to get rid of it.
Remember that wasps provide beneficial services by eliminating other pest insects to predation before you decide to get rid of the wasps.
When wasps do need to be eliminated, the safest option is always to call for professional help. Various methods from trapping to pesticides can be used to get rid of these pests.
Among the most common product for the do-it-yourself inclined are aerosol insecticides. These will be marked for use on wasp and hornet nests and are effective for controlling paper wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets.
To get rid of paper wasps you’ll need to find the nest and spray it in a sweeping motion with pressurized (aerosol) wasp insecticide. It is recommended that you spray paper wasp nests at night.
Similarly, you can kill hornets with aerosol wasp killer, but be sure to spray the nest from a distance and also at night. The best method is to spray directly into the nest entrance. Finally, yellow jackets are the most difficult to kill.
Once you have identified the nest, you will need to spray plenty of poison into the nest so that you kill them all at once. This can be very difficult, and you should use a non-projectile wasp killer. By spraying yellow jacket nests at night, the yellow jackets will be less likely to fight back.
Keep in mind, getting rid of wasps can be dangerous, especially if you have bee or wasp allergies. It is always recommended that you seek professional help to eliminate all kinds of wasps.
Paper wasps derive their name from their uncanny habit of constructing papery nests from chewed up dead plant stems and wood mixed with their saliva. They are also called vespid wasps or the umbrella wasps because of the distinct umbrella shape of their nests.
Paper wasps have a reputation for being stingers and their sting is quite painful. But these wasps are also beneficial to the ecosystem around them. They are good for gardens around them because they pollinate flowers plus they chew up caterpillars that invade your garden and feed on their larvae as well.
How to identify paper wasps
The easiest way to identify this species of wasps is through their nest. It looks like an upside down paper comb hanging off a horizontal surface by a single stalk. Physically the wasp is about half an inch to an inch long and they have a reddish brown hue. They can also be yellow and blackish red. Their bodies are however, not fuzzy at all.
Because they do not lose their sting after stinging you like bees do, they can sting you repeatedly especially when they feel threatened or their colony is threatened.
They have a queen
Paper wasps have a queen whom they protect at all costs. She is probably the reason you get stung when you go near their colony. She gives birth to the worker wasps who continually expand the colony and nest. They forage for food and also care for the new larvae waiting to mature. The wasps will abandon the nests in the winter and most of the workers perish leaving the fertilized queen to survive until spring when she brings forth a new brood to start the colony cycle again.
Are paper wasp stings dangerous?
Yes they are to people who are allergic to stings. Some people will only experience localized pain and swelling which dissipates after an hour or two. However, some people are very allergic to stings and they can react in a number of ways including
- Experiencing difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of the face, tongue, lips and eyelids
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and fainting
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Breaking out in hives
Paper wasp love to make their home inside a house or right outside the house on one of the horizontal beams. Clearing them out is imperative to the safety of everyone in the house.
The Africanized bee or the African honey bee is the killer bee. It is a cross breed of the Eastern and southern Africa lowland honey bee and their European counterparts like the Italian bees. The first killer bees were taken to Brazil to help increase the country’s honey production but some swarms escaped quarantine and headed for the rest of South America and North America.
African honey bees look very much like regular honey bees but they are much more dangerous. They have been reported to give chase for at least quarter of a mile to attack anyone or any animal that they feel threatens their colony.
How do they look like?
The Africanized killer bee can be told apart by measuring their body against the domestic bees. They are smaller in size and have a richer golden color with much darker bands of brown compared to domesticated bees.
The killer bees create smaller colonies so they can build a nest inside the house. They have also been known to build a colony inside the water meter, mail boxes, crate and boxes lying around, flower posts and even in uninhabited holes in the ground. Did you notice that all these areas are bound to result in an accidental run in with humans especially children?
Killer beers do not have more potent venom compared to regular domestic bees but because they attack in larger numbers and are very quick to become aggressive they pose a greater danger. These bees are sensitive to any type of disturbance so noise, constant traffic near their colony, children playing nearby and other “disruptive” behavior is bound to trigger them. To prevent attacks it is best to keep away from their colonies especially if you live in an area with a common occurrence of killer bees.
What to do when under attack
When under attack from a swarm of killer bees run in a zig zag fashion and enter a shelter area where the doors and windows shut. This can be a house or a car. Some people run into a body of water but killer bees will wait for you to emerge and resume the attack.
If you notice a bee or several do not swat at them as this makes them feel threatened causing them to spring into action. Blow from a distance so that it feels like a draught of wind pushing at them. Do not use insect repellent when under attack as this doesn’t work either.
How to treat killer bee stings
When killer bees sting they leave their barb in the skin. When the stinger remains lodged in the skin it continues to release venom making the area more painful. Remove the barb and clean the sting site after cleaning apply a cold compress to take the pain and swelling down. You can also use an over the counter antihistamines and pain killers to alleviate the pain and sooth the local reaction. If the reaction persists and you suspect an anaphylactic shock is on the way call 911.
The yellow jacket is a species of wasps that has predatory tendencies. When a yellow jacket attacks you it will both bite and sting. In fact, it bites you to get a better grip to deliver its sting. The name yellow jacket actually is used as a general term for wasps in North America. In other parts of the world the same is just referred to as a wasp. It can also be called a yellow hornet.
Yellow jackets help the environment and the circle of life by feeding on the insects that cause damage to crops. This includes caterpillars, larvae and other small insects. Yellow jacket workers get more aggressive in the fall as they abandon their colonies and forage for themselves. They have no larvae to care for during this time and as they try to survive as a random entity they can become very testy when they feel threatened.
Generally yellow jackets don’t survive the winter unless the nest is in a very warm place in which case the whole colony can survive. However, the typical behavior of yellow jackets is for the queen to fly away after the summer and start other colonies elsewhere leaving the workers behind who die off at the end of the season. This nest is not reused.
A yellow jacket’s sting
It is excruciatingly painful but will last for about an hour or two. The sting can cause a burning sensation with a red ring surrounding the sting site. Usually, the red ring will last for up to three days without being infected.
Because yellow jackets are attracted to human food especially meats and sweets the chances of running into one are very high which makes the probability of as ting just as high. An effective home remedy for a yellow jacket sting is a plain mixture of baking soda and water (a spoonful of baking soda will suffice) applied to the sting site. This helps to neutralize the venom. You can also apply some vinegar afterwards to reduce the itchiness. If you keep scratching the site you can open yourself up to an infection.
You can also apply some calamine lotion to the area or hydrocortisone cream to relieve the swelling, itching and pain from the sting.
How to remove yellow jacket nests
Try to not approach the nest during the day because there is a greater likelihood of being stung by the worker yellow jacket as they strive to protect the queen. Instead wait for nightfall when they are not so aggressive and dismantle it then. You can kill yellow jackets with pyrethrum aerosol at night because they do not see well and the whole colony is inside the nest. Why pyrethrum aerosol specifically? Because the pyrethrum forms a potent gas which fills the interior of the nest and no wasp can survive this.
Once done with the spraying you should let the aerosol dry completely then dust the nest with insecticide dust to kill off any hatching eggs.