Most of us know what a paper wasp is, even if we may not know it by name. They cling to our window and door screens, looking for a way inside. They float around in the air with their legs dangling beneath them, exploring every balcony and every porch. They establish grey nests on our sheds, garages, and houses. And, when those nests are threatened, these insects come pouring out and begin to swarm. But, knowing all of this isn't going to help you protect your family from painful stings. Here are some things every family should know about paper wasps.
Effective pest management always starts with proper identification. There are many species of wasp, bees, and hornets. And they don't all behave the same way. Some are more aggressive or territorial. Some swarm, while others do not. Some build aerial nests and some prefer to build ground nests. It is important to know that the insect you're dealing with is actually a paper wasp.
Paper wasps range in length from 5/8 to 3/4 inches (or 16 to 20 mm). They are usually brownish with yellow markings, with their legs being mostly yellowish-orange. A few species of paper wasp have reddish markings. The species Polistes dominula is often confused with yellow jackets because it has a black and yellow coloration. But you shouldn't confuse them. These two wasps are distinctly different in shape when you put them beside each other. From the top down, the yellow jacket (Vespula pensylvanica) looks more pill-shaped, even though it has a pinched waist. The species Polistes dominula has a pinched waist and an hourglass shape. But, when you see a black and yellow wasp, you're probably not going to take the time to closely examine its shape. We understand. Just ask yourself, "Does that look like a thick wasp or a thin wasp." If your answer is thick, you're probably looking at a yellow jacket.
It is important to know the difference between a yellow jacket and a paper wasp because yellow jackets create nests in locations that are hidden, like the cavity of a home or a hole in the yard. If you see one yellow jacket flying around, you could be within inches of hundreds of yellow jackets and not know it. Paper wasps aren't as secretive. Their grey nests are often found on rooflines, windows, rafters, and overhangs. They may also be found in a tree.
While paper wasps are social insects, they aren't as aggressive as many other stinging pests. It doesn't take much to set a yellow jacket off. Yellow jackets can swarm you when the vibrations from your lawnmower vibrate their nest. Baldfaced hornets send out sentries to circle their nests and warn the other wasps when there is a threat. So they may swarm you even if you are several feet away. You'll have to get up close to a paper wasp nest to get them to swarm, and vibrations aren't usually enough to cause paper wasps to swarm.
Paper wasps eat meats and sweets but they aren't as aggressive about it as yellow jackets. If you have open food on a table and black and yellow wasps show up, they are probably not paper wasps. You are more likely to find paper wasps in your garden or flower beds dining on nectar and garden pests. They are actually beneficial insects in this way. But it isn't enough of a benefit to share living spaces with these stinging pests. Yellow jackets are not beneficial. They are scavengers that love meat. They love it so much they are called "meat bees" by some people. Paper wasps can show up at an outdoor cookout, however. They are drawn to the smell of sweet beverages.
Paper Wasp Control Services
When temperatures drop, these wasps try to get into the house. And a sting from a paper wasp is not only painful, it can be life-threatening for those who have an allergy to their venom. The best way to protect your family from paper wasps is to not have paper wasps around. Sounds simple, right? It would be if these wasps were not nest protectors. If you have a fully developed paper wasps nest on your property, it is wise to call a professional to remove it. Not only do professionals have protective gear, they also use industry-established methods to eliminate nests with little or no chemical products.
If you live in Tyler, Texas or the surrounding areas, and you're dealing with wasps, reach out to Innovative Pest Control to schedule a free inspection. We'll help you choose the best residential pest control options to meet your needs.