Stinging Pests

Bumble beeBumble Bees – Bumble bees are large robust insects with black and yellow coloration. The foraging bumble bee has a large pollen basket on each hind leg that is often loaded with pollen. The bumble bee queens are typically twice as large as workers or males. A female bumble bee has a pointed abdomen with a stinger. Males do not have a stinger and the tip of the abdomen is rounded. Although Bumble bees are normally harmless when foraging. A disturbed colony can be nasty. Guard bees stand ready to protect the nest against predators. The worker bumble bee can sting repeatedly without sacrificing her life. Precautions should be taken when working or playing in areas that are likely to be inhabited by bumble bees. This is especially true when mowing fields or trimming weeds around trash or wood piles. If a colony is disturbed, a person should slowly walk away with both hands covering the face. It is best to walk toward dense vegetation or enter a vehicle or building to escape the stinging insects. Swift movements will only attract more bumble bees. Persons highly sensitive to bee stings should always carry a sting treatment kit during outdoor activities. To reduce swelling following a stinging incident, a person may use several sting remedies. A convenient material to place on the sting site is moistened table salt. Mound the salt on the sting entry point and moisten with a few drops of water. Leave the salt on the site for several minutes. This procedure must be applied within 3-4 minutes following the stinging incident to be effective.

carpenter beesCarpenter Bees – Carpenter bees  are very active from early spring through summer around houses and other wooden structures. These insects bore one-half inch wide holes that appear to be perfectly round on exterior wooden surfaces of house siding, eaves, window trim, fascia boards, shingles, decks and outdoor furniture. Homeowners are often frightened by these pesky black bees that fly erratically around their homes. The male carpenter bee is very territorial and protects its nesting sites by hoovering and attacking intruders. Although the male is aggressive, it does not have a stinger, making it harmless. The female does have a stinger, but rarely stings.

 YellowjacketYellow Jackets – Yellow jacket stings can result in a life threatening situation if the person is allergic to the venom. The yellow jacket worker is about ½ inch in length with alternating yellow and black bands on the abdomen. Foraging yellow jackets are often mistaken for honey bees because of their similar color and the fact that they may be attracted to the same food sources. Honey bees are slightly larger than yellow jackets and are covered with hairs or setae that are absent on yellow jackets. The yellow jacket has a smooth stinger that can be used to sting multiple times. Honey bees have a barbed stinger that can be used to sting only once.

baldface_hornetBaldfaced Hornets – Contrary to the name, the baldfaced hornet is not a hornet. It is actually one of the many types of yellowjackets found in the United States. Baldfaced hornets are different from other yellowjackets because of their white and black color as opposed to the more typical yellow and black pattern. The most notable feature of this wasp is the white or “baldface” head. They also have three white stripes on the end of their body. Compared to other yellowjackets, baldfaced hornets are extremely large. Adult workers vary in size, but average about 3/4 inch long. Queens look similar to the workers and are only a little larger. The sting of a baldfaced hornet is similar to most other social bees and wasps. A typical reaction includes immediate pain and/or swelling at the sting site. Other sensations may include burning and itching. For some individuals the initial swelling may be painful and increase to affect a larger area. One unique behavior of baldfaced hornets is the ability to squirt venom from the stinger into the eyes of nest intruders. The venom causes immediate watering of the eyes and temporary blindness.

paper wasp2Paper Wasps – Like many other social wasps, paper wasps feed on many insect pests of gardens. Unfortunately, paper wasps will also feed on fruits, damaging their appearance and will scrape wood from houses to make their nests. Though they are not aggressive, paper wasps can sting, making them a concern to many people when these wasps build their nests in or around homes. There are many different types of paper wasps with different habits and life cycles. The most common paper wasps are about 5/8 to 3/4 inch in length. Many are brownish with yellow markings, though a few species have reddish markings. Though paper wasps do not readily attack people, they will sting if they feel threatened or provoked. Many times people are stung when they bumble into paper wasp nests hidden in bushes or around homes.

Mud DauberMud Daubers – Mud daubers are wasp-like insects that construct nests from mud. They make a variety of nests ranging from elaborate structures (i.e., multiple tubes several inches long or small vase-like nests attached to plant stems) to merely ‘plastering’ up existing cracks or crevices in wood, stone, or masonry. Many mud daubers will fill holes in round openings found in equipment and lawn furniture. These wasps range in size from one-half inch in length to slightly more than one inch. They often have bright, metallic coloration and narrow thread-like waists. Mud daubers are not aggressive insects and rarely sting, unless they are threatened or inadvertently contacted. Although the venom is primarily for paralyzing and preserving prey, it is painful.

scorpionScorpion – Scorpions are most common in the southern states from coast to coast, although they are found as far north as British Columbia. Most of the scorpions that invade homes or other buildings are generally not dangerous. While they will sting if someone accidentally contacts them, their sting is seldom more painful than that of a wasp or honeybee. There is one deadly species in southern Arizona and adjacent areas of Texas, California, and New Mexico. This species is not found in Georgia or in the southeastern US. Scorpions are attracted to areas that provide shelter, moisture and their prey: mostly insects. Scorpions often enter homes in the spring and fall but there is no clear evidence to indicate why scorpions will invade homes at certain times of the year and not at others. Once inside the home, scorpions prefer hidden places with cover. Scorpions can readily enter buildings through cracks 1/8 inch wide. Around the home scorpions may be found in accumulations of lumber, bricks, brush and trash. Certain ornamental ground covers such as large stones, mulch and bark provide good harborage for scorpions and such areas adjacent to a home may enhance the movement of these pests into a home.

black_widowBlack Widow – Most people are familiar with the Southern Black Widow (Lactrodectus mactans), a glossy black spider with a complete red hourglass marking on the underside of its abdomen. The widow spiders are large with mature females measuring 1 1/2 inches with legs extended. The smaller male widow spiders can be distinguished from the females by the swollen (knob like) palpal organs projecting from the front of the head. The widow spiders have eight eyes clustered on the front of the head. Male black widows and immatures and other widow spiders (red and brown widows) pose little health threat. The female black widow usually spins a silken web in protected places such as under stones, house steps, decks, etc. The spider is rarely found inside houses. The widow spider is most apt to bite when her eggs are threatened. The black widow bite produces a sharp pain that may persist for hours. Local muscular cramps may develop. The pain may become severe and spread to the abdomen and be accompanied by weakness and tremor. Spasmodic breathing, a feeble pulse, cold clammy skin and delirium may be noted.

Wolf spiderWolf – Wolf Spiders vary from ½ to 2 inches in length, are fairly hairy and are known to be easily confused with the venomous brown recluse. Their stout body shape and elongated legs helps these spiders to attack prey with great force.  Wolf spiders to not pose a very large threat to humans. They rarely bite and if they do the pain is restricted to common symptoms of swelling or itchiness.

brown_recluseRecluse – The brown recluse is a small, light brown to yellow, quite harmless appearing spider. Its slim body is about 3/8″ long with long legs which extend its length to more than one inch. The primary key to identification are the three pairs of eyes. The “fiddle” or violin outline on the back is not a dependable character since many brown spiders have similar markings. The male brown recluse is similar in appearance to the female except it has a smaller abdomen and large knob like palpi on the front of the head. The brown recluse is a shy spider and searches for its insect prey primarily at night. During the day it rests in closets, boxes, under furniture, in attics under insulation, and in ceiling light fixtures. People typically are bitten accidentally while putting on clothes in which the spider is hiding or rolling on to them while in bed. The bite of the brown recluse usually produces a necrotic (death of tissue) condition followed by deep scaring of tissue. Lesions are slow healing and often require skin grafts. The bite may also produce a systemic reaction causing the destruction of red blood cells resulting in kidney failure and death.