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The stinging insects of Fredericksburg and how to identify them

The stinging insects most commonly encountered by Sigma Pest Control, in and around Fredericksburg and the surrounding area, are yellow jackets, paper wasps, European and bald-faced hornets, and honeybees.

Stings and bites from these pests are common, and often result in redness and swelling in the injured area. Sometimes a sting or bite can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction or transmit viruses, bacteria or parasites to humans.

These stinging pests don’t usually attack humans unless motivated and threatened. Insects sting to protect their hives or nests or when incidentally touched or disturbed. In defense of their nest, a sting or bite injects venom (composed of proteins) that may trigger an allergic reaction in the target.

Which insects sting?

There are many insects that sting. In Fredericksburg, however, the most common are the honey bee, paper wasp, hornet, and yellow jacket. It is important that you know the different types of stinging insects and how they react when you are in their presence. A trained pest professional will be able to properly identify a pest species and its threats, but you can also use this guide for assistance: 

Honeybees are pollinators, and therefore vital to our agricultural economy.  As such, they generally should be left alone unless they are presenting a direct hazard to humans and can’t be controlled through non-lethal intervention.

Honeybees are not usually aggressive when searching for food, but they can be extremely aggressive when they feel threatened. Honeybees are social insects with a highly-developed communications system, and they can rapidly attack in great numbers if they feel threatened. 

hornet nestPaper wasps get their name from the paper-like nests they build. The gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, and use to construct water-resistant nests. Shaped like tiny umbrellas, the paper wasp nest is suspended by a short stem attached to eaves, window frames, porch ceilings, attic rafters, etc.

European and Bald-faced hornets are most common in and around Fredericksburg. Members of the wasp family, these hornets are among the most aggressive. If they feel in the least bit threatened, you can expect an all-out attack by hundreds of individuals, each of which is capable of inflicting multiple, painful stings.

Because of their extreme aggressiveness, the hazards associated with controlling them, and the need for special protective equipment, hornet control should always be performed by professionals.

Yellowjackets are aggressive wasps that nest in the ground, or in midair nests. When threatened they may attack in great numbers and inflict painful stings that can be fatal to individuals who are allergic. Since Yellowjackets don’t lose their stinger, they can sting numerous times, and will do so unprovoked. In fact, they usually bite your flesh to get a better grip as they jab their stinger into your skin.

Non-social/solitary bees and wasps

Not all bees or wasps sting. Some live alone. Called non-social or solitary, their name pretty much describes their demeanor. Non-social bees and wasps live alone, do not form colonies, and do not swarm. They rarely sting and are not aggressive unless threatened. Solitary bees collect pollen and fly around from flower to flower, searching for food for their unhatched egg.

How to protect yourself from being stung

The easiest thing you can do to prevent stinging insects from invading your living space is to close your doors and windows, and to clean your outdoor area of sweets and proteins.

Another way to ensure your property is free of stinging insects is to remove their hives and nests. You can usually spot them by walking around the exterior of your home, paying special attention to overhangs, eaves, the underside of porches and decks.

Other tips:

  • Seal cracks and crevices in and around your house so they can’t get in.
  • Avoid excessive use of fragrances; especially the sweet smelling kind.
  • When outside, wear closed-toe shoes.
  • Remain calm when stinging insects are near. You don’t want to aggravate them.

What if I get stung?

First aid tips:

  • If you already know you are allergic to stings, seek medical attention right away.
  • Remove the stinger using a gauze wipe (never try to squeeze it out).
  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling.
  • Do not scratch the area, even if it itches. This may intensify the reaction.


If a nest is found on the property, keep yourself and other members of the family away and do not attempt to remove it on your own. Depending on the species, a nest could contain hundreds or even thousands of stinging insects, which could swarm and sting if they are disturbed or feel threatened.

Instead, contact the licensed pest control professionals at Sigma Pest Control to relocate or remove the hive in a safe manner.

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How to handle wasps and hornets in and around your home

Warmer weather is just around the corner. That means the stinging insects, like hornets and wasps, will take flight and make their presence known at our picnics and on our front porch or deck. Beginning in June but mostly from July through October, these pests thrive in outdoor areas and can make their way into homes or other buildings.

While the danger isn’t too great, it can be a nuisance to deal with and no one likes having stinging insects in or around their home. A big part of taking care of these types of infestations comes down to education. So, what are some important things to know about wasps and hornets and how are they different and similar?

Hornet Facts

  1. Hornets are actually large wasps.
  2. The hornet worker is larger than the queen.
  3. Hornets feed on bees and other insects … not sweet things.
  4. Hornets will mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense of the colony.

Wasp Facts

  1. Wasps live everywhere but Antarctica.
  2. Wasps can sting over-and-over again.
  3. Wasps make nests out of paper (from chewing tiny strips of bark).
  4. In the fall, all the wasps die except for a few new queens

Where to they like to hang out?

These stinging insects can become hostile in situations where they feel threatened, but they don’t make extra efforts to use their stingers. If they do sting, it can be painful but it is typically not threatening. Nests outside the home can make outdoor activities difficult as well.

Hornets can camp out in smaller openings in the sides of homes or buildings and in logs or in the barks of trees but their ideal nesting locations are the branches of trees and bigger shrubs. The nests of hornets are usually in a protected area, large, made of paper, orb like and can contain 100 to 700 hornets.

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hornet nest

About their sting ...

Like wasps, hornets will react aggressively if they are in a situation where they feel threatened and their stings can be quite painful. Hornets do have the unique skill of being able to squirt venom. The liquid will enter the eyes of their enemies and temporarily cause blindness.

Just like the wasp, the hornet’s sting is not life threatening but can cause more symptoms with people who are allergic. The most likely symptoms include swelling of the affected area, pain, and redness at the site of the sting.

Is that a Wasp or a Hornet?

There are some differences and similarities between wasps and hornets, which apply to nests, color, diet, the frequency of stinging. The main difference between wasps and hornets is their size. Hornets are relatively larger than wasps, which is one of the main reasons they are so scary, although as previously discussed, they are quite shy.

Hornets can be black and white or a brownish red. Hornets are one of mother nature’s pest controllers. With a craving for insects such as aphids, hornets help rid the world of unwanted garden pests which damage resources within an agricultural setting.

Wasps are smaller than hornets and their nests can be made in the air or on the ground. Their colors vary greatly. They also rarely scavenge for sweets or proteins. Wasps don’t sting unless threatened.

How do I deal with them?

If you find you have a wasp or hornet infestation, contact Sigma Pest Control to get a technician to fix the problem today.

CALL US! (540) 94-SIGMA
Sigma Pest Control LLC