As the weather warms up, more and more insects will start to become active. Of the various subspecies that you might see around your home, bees and stinging insects can be the most troubling to spot as they probe high up within the eaves and soffits. General activity, along with pestering you and your guests enjoying the outdoors, is a sign that you should consider getting your home treated to prevent nest-building and reduce exposure. However, there is more than one type of stinging insect, thus various kinds of treatments should take place. At Creature Control, we first determine what you are dealing with before approaching a solution. This article helps explain the basic differences among bees and other stinging insects.   

Carpenter Bees are large, black, and usually cluster in small groups in and around wooden soffits, decks, and pillars. They can be glossy in some areas of their body and are often larger than bumblebees, with which they’re often confused. They are completely harmless to people but can be scary due to their large size and comparatively loud buzzing noise. However, they can cause damage to the wood they chew through. Bumblebees are harmless pollinators and are most often seen solitary. We hardly ever get calls about bumblebees, as most people aren’t bothered by their presence.

A honeybee (small, fuzzy, and not usually aggressive) is an important pollinator and a big player in local ecosystems. They rarely sting, and if they do, a single sting will quickly kill that individual bee. Honeybees are rarely called in, but for a couple of situations, you may feel compelled to call a pest control company.  

One alarming instance are swarms: a cloud or large cluster of honeybees all in one place. A swarm of honeybees usually occurs because a queen is leading a large group to find a new nest. Swarms are generally harmless but can be frightening to see. Normally, they will move on before a pest control tech can get there, so it’s nearly always best to wait the situation out, as it will resolve itself before long. Another distressing issue honeybees may present is the placement of their hive, whether in a tree, wall or otherwise; a colony of honeybees can be frightening and damaging if inside a home. The honeycomb has to be removed after the hive is treated, which can be time-consuming and expensive but must be done in case it attracts other animals or rots and destroys the wood it’s built around. Calls for this situation are also rare: Creature Control cares greatly about our local honeybee population and works closely with beekeepers whenever possible to save the colony before the comb is removed.

Moving beyond bees, the common Paper Wasp is often seen by Michiganders this time of year.  They’re black and yellow with a thinner body and head than any bee and can (and do!) sting repeatedly if bothered. Their nests are small by comparison to those of hornets (see below) but can dot the eaves of a home in greater numbers than their stinging cousins. Wasps can be incredibly annoying if you have outdoor guests or a picnic, but they will often stick to themselves unless attracted or provoked.

Yellowjackets are slightly smaller than normal wasps (although they often have a proportionally thicker abdomen) and have a bright golden-yellow color, from which they get their name. Yellowjackets have large colonies and defend their nests aggressively. They make their homes in a couple of places, either in the ground (often confused with the near-harmless cicada-killers or mud-daubers) or in the walls of homes. This latter problem is usually diagnosed by a “crackling” in the drywall and some patches of your interior walls becoming spongy to the touch. If you have either of those problems, contact Creature Control right away. If yellowjackets have built a nest behind your wall they will break through soon enough!  

Michigan has a couple of hornet species, distinct from the average wasp by their elongated thorax and aggressive-looking silhouette. They’re often seen by themselves (though there can be several in the area) and can be aggressive if bothered. They are a scary-looking insect and come in black, yellow, and rust-colored variations.

Separate even from regular hornets is the Bald-Faced Hornet. They’re large, almost all back with a pale-white face, and they’re the most aggressive insect on this list. Their nests are made from a papery-gray material, and the nest can grow from golf-ball size to basketball-sized almost overnight.  Hundreds of these hornets can live inside and will aggressively pursue anyone who disturbs their home.

Whatever the pest situation you face, whether it’s with bees or some other stinging insect, Creature Control can be there to advise and help. Our technicians are trained to handle all of the above species and many less-common ones, so give our office a call or contact us anytime!

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