Honey Bee, Wasps, Hornets, Yellow Jackets

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Photo by Radu P
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Wisconsin is home to many varieties of stinging insects. The average Wisconsin household may have to deal with Bumble Bees, Carpenter Bees, Honey Bees, Ground Bees, Solitary Bees, Polisties Paper Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Mud Dauber Wasp, Yellow Jackets, and Cicada Killers. Some of these are not very aggressive and others are more aggressive; and some depend on the time of year for varying aggressiveness.

The wasp species are usually found under eaves and decks, behind shutters, and behind or in exterior wall fixtures. They are mildly aggressive most of the spring and summer months, but starting in September and until they go dormant they are more aggressive, so be sure to avoid them if at all possible. The most effective method we have found for controlling and eliminating wasps is to treat all eaves, around all windows and doors and under decks with a residual pesticide that lasts about 45-60 days. This treatment is typically done on a recurring basis in the months of May, July, and September as part of our Home Protection Plan; but the treatment can be started at any time during the spring and summer months.

For carpenter bees, ground bees, cicada killers, and yellow jackets a different treatment is necessary. All these species are what we call cavity, or void nesters. They find or make holes in trees, logs, walls, or the ground and begin to build a very large nest in these spaces. A spray cannot get into these spaces most of the time. Instead we use a very fine, light pesticide powder we call a dust. We puff a small amount into the opening the bees are using and it floats into the void and coats all the surfaces inside- even the bees. Generally the nest is completely dead in 48 hours after one treatment. Occasionally we need a second treatment due to the layout of the access hole in relation to the nest itself, or other factors. This treatment is best done in the early morning or late evening when the activity of the nest is at it lowest.

The rest of the stinging pests we see are either very solitary as in the bumble bee or not very aggressive like the honey bee. Generally these species can just be left to go about their business and will not harm people unless very directly threatened... step on one, sit on one, etc. And honey bees are usually part of a controlled population used for commercial honey production or farm pollination, so we try to avoid treating specifically for them if at all possible. We don't want to affect the production of that farm or apiary.