Are you hearing a buzzing sound in your wall or noticing wasp activity around the outside of your home? You may be dealing with some unwelcome insects. There are many types of wasps that could be causing you issues. In this post, we will explain how to identify some of the most common varieties found in Connecticut.
One common species of wasps you might be seeing in your yard is the paper wasp. This is actually a category of several species of wasps that build their nests out of paper. They are a semi-social insect, in that they live in small colonies but they do not have a worker group within their colony.
There are about 22 species within the United States that fall into this category. The umbrella-shaped nests of a paper wasp can be identified by the open, uncovered cells where their eggs are laid. These nests are typically built in areas that are protected from weather and predators, such as hanging from trees, porch ceilings, or deck floor joists. While this type of wasp may not be aggressive by nature, they will sting if disturbed or if they feel that their nest is threatened. Their sting can be very painful leaving the sting site red and swollen and potentially causing an allergic reaction.
White Faced Hornets
Unlike the open cone nest structure of the paper wasp, Bald Faced Hornets, also commonly called White-Faced Hornets, build aerial paper nests that are grey in color and completely enclosed. White-faced hornets only include one singular hole for both entry and exit from the nest. These nests can typically be found three or more feet off of the ground in protected areas within trees or shrubs, or hanging from eaves, overhangs, sheds or other elevated areas.
If you spot a white-faced hornet’s nest it is important to take extra caution around these wasps, as they are known to be very aggressive and will attack without provocation. Anything that invades their territory can be seen as a threat to them. They can sting repeatedly and carry venom that can cause pain, swelling and itching for about 24 hours.
Another nest commonly found in the Connecticut area is that of the yellowjacket. Their paper nests differ from the white-faced hornets in that they can be found both above and below ground. When nesting above ground, nests can frequently be found in elevated areas such as under eaves and overhangs or within the branches of trees and shrubs. On the other hand, below-ground nests can be much more difficult to find as they usually have a small, difficult-to-see entrance hole. In some cases, they will have more than one entrance or exit from the nest, so multiple holes may be present.
Additionally, yellowjackets are commonly found nesting within the walls of your home. They will gain entrance by any small crack or crevice in the siding and build their nest in the void space between your wallboards or ceiling. These nests can continue to grow throughout the season, and can even get so large that they break through the wallboard and spill into your home.
Yellowjackets can sometimes venture up to hundreds of feet away from their nest, so it’s important to keep in mind that the nest may not be in plain sight when you first encounter the insect. Again, as with many stinging insects, it is important to take caution around yellowjackets as they can be territorial and will sting if they feel threatened. Their smooth stinger allows them to sting repeatedly when attacking making it all the more important to steer clear of these nests.
Mud Daubers Nests
As their name suggests, mud daubers create their nests out of mud. In fact, “Mud Dauber” is the common name for various wasp species that create their nests out of mud. Depending on the species, these nests are typically made into short or long tubes of mud-built side-by-side. Mud daubers are solitary insects, meaning they do not live in colonies with a hierarchical structure. However, in some instances, you may find more than one mud dauber in a single nest.
Mud daubers will frequently build their nests in sheltered spaces such as underneath porch ceilings, eaves or overhangs, as well as inside garages, sheds, attics, or protected walls on a building. The female mud dauber will construct the nests and place several spiders inside which she will paralyze with her venom.
She will then deposit one egg into each tube, and as the larvae emerge from the eggs they will feed on the spiders she has left for them. Known to rarely sting, mud daubers are far less aggressive than yellowjackets or bald-faced hornets; however, they can sting if they are provoked or feel threatened.
Cicada Killer Wasps
The cicada killer wasp, found below ground, is a solitary insect and does not live in colonies like many of its cousins. Instead, each female wasp will dig individual burrows where they lay eggs protected by the confines of the burrow.
Since each female digs her own burrow, the damage to your lawn could be extensive with a large infestation. Cicada killer wasps favor sandy soil and loose clay but can also be found burrowing through grass and along pathways. Any area that is exposed to sunlight and has a variety of soil types is a potential nesting site for these wasps. Some customers will only see three or four nests, and some have even reported hundreds of individual nests in a single yard.
Similar to paper wasps and mud daubers, the cicada killer wasp will only sting when threatened or provoked. They are not generally aggressive towards humans. The male wasp can be extremely territorial. They can sometimes be seen grappling with other male wasps for territory. However, this does not actually present any danger because the male wasps do not have a stinger. In reality, only the female cicada killer wasp can sting, and she rarely does.
What To Do If You Find A Wasp Nest In Your Yard
The first step to treating a wasp or hornet nest on your property is to determine what type of insect you are dealing with. Some of the more aggressive wasps such as white faced hornets or yellowjackets are best left for the professionals to deal with. You can actually coexist with some of the less aggressive types of wasps without fear of dangerous stings. However, even if they do not present a threat of painful stings, they can still be a nuisance like the mud dauber or cause property destruction like the cicada killer wasp.
If you find a wasp nest on your property, the best course of action is to observe it from a safe distance to determine what type of insect it is and where they appear to be nesting. Armed with that information, we can give you a free estimate for treating the nest, or we can let you know if it’s best to leave it alone.