Stinging Insects

Common types of stinging insects

Stinging insects are beneficial in that they pollinate flowers, crops, and other plants and, depending on the type, hunt and feed on nuisance insects, helping to keep populations down. They become problematic when they establish nests in, on, or close to Florida homes or businesses. In our region, the most commonly encountered stinging insects are the paper wasps, yellow jackets, and honey bees.

paper wasp making a nest in manatee county florida

Paper Wasps

These stinging insects have long legs that hang down when they are in flight; they also have a pinched waist that is often associated with other wasp species. Their bodies are black or brown in color and depending on the exact species they can have yellow markings, orange markings, or a combination of both yellow and orange markings. Their wings are grayish in color and paper wasps have a smooth stinger which allows them to sting their victim repeatedly.

yellow jacket resting on a leaf in sarasota florida

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets vary in appearance depending on the species, but typically have either banded yellow and black abdomens or banded white and black abdomens. Yellow jackets appear similar to paper wasps but they have shorter legs and wider abdomens. They also have a smooth stinger.

worker bees filling cells with honey in manatee county

Honey Bees

Honey bees have fuzzy abdomens and are dark brown to black in color and are banded with either yellow or orange. Their stings are barbed which means that they can only sting once. 

bald-faced hornet up close

Bald-Faced Hornets

Bald-faced hornets are actually not hornets at all. In fact, they are more closely related to yellow jackets and paper wasps. They are referred to as “hornets” because of their large size; adults can grow to between ½ and ¾ of an inch in length with queens being the largest members. Bald-faced hornets have long, thin wasp-like bodies that are black with an off-white pattern covering most of the face. This gives them the appearance of having a “bald” face. They also have an off-white color pattern at the end of the abdomen and on the thorax. Bald-faced hornets can be quite aggressive and their paper-like nests are found up off of the ground.

mud dauber up close

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers are a solitary species of stinging insect; they were named after the unique nests they create out of mud and other organic materials. They often create their nests on the outside of homes and other structures. Mud daubers are black wasps that have yellow markings and extremely thin structures which connect the thorax and abdomen together (pedicel). The elongated pedicel makes the body look as though it has been “stretched.” Inside nests, female create hundreds of individual “cells” that house their developing young. Female mud daubers hunt and paralyze spiders to feed to their young. Mud daubers are not an aggressive species of stinging insect and rarely sting people, though care should still be taken around them.

european hornet up close

European Hornets

European hornets, commonly referred to as giant hornets or brown hornets, are very large. These hornets are the only “true hornet” native to the United States. Adults are brown in color with yellow stripes on their abdomen. Faces are paler in color than the rest of their bodies. European hornets grow to between ¾ and 1 ½ an inch in length. These hornets have a long “full” body, 6 legs, 2 pairs of wings, and antennae. An interesting fact about European hornets is that unlike most other species of stinging insects, these hornets can be active throughout the night. European hornets, along with delivering painful stings, can cause damage to trees and shrubs by stripping their bark in order to create their nests and feed on sap.

Where do stinging insects nest?

Where exactly a stinging insect will nest is species dependent. Paper wasps create their umbrella-shaped nests from paper-like material that they create from saliva and wood fibers. Paper wasps typically hang their nests from trees, shrubs, door frames, roof soffits, and inside of attics.

Yellow jackets usually create their nests in the ground, although if given the opportunity they will place their nest under roof eaves, behind walls voids, and inside of attics.

Honey bees like to place their nests inside of tree hollows, crevices, between rocks, in tree stumps, and in other hollow areas.

Are stinging insects dangerous?

Yes, stinging insects are considered to be dangerous. Their stings are not only painful and leave behind raised red welts, but the venom that they inject is strong enough to cause health problems in people.

Depending on the person, the venom can cause a severe allergic reaction or even anaphylactic shock - in either case immediate medical attention should be sought.

Why do I have a stinging insect problem?

Stinging insects are attracted to food sources such as insects, nectar, and pollen. Swimming pools, ornamental ponds, and other water sources may also attract them.  

How do I get rid of stinging insects?

If you’ve discovered a nest on, in or near your home or building, contact Keller’s to discuss treatment options.  In business for over 20 years, our team of licensed pest control professionals have the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to resolve your stinging insect problem. Simply contact us online or by calling (941) 845-6285.

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