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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.

Prevention

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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