Interesting Facts About Mosquitoes, Wasps and Other Common Summer PestsDr. Jim Fredericks
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
The classification of stinging and biting
insects is a catchall grouping for solitary or social pests
that sting or bite. Solitary species are those whose members live
independently of each other, such as mosquitoes, carpenter bees,
cicada killers, mud daubers and velvet ants. Social insects live
together in colonies or nests consisting of workers, queens and
periodically males. Common social species include bumble bees,
hornets, paper wasps and yellowjackets.
Stinging and biting insects are most active during the summer
and fall, during which time they pose an increased threat to our
health. In fact, stinging insects alone send more than half a
million people to the emergency room every year. And, mosquitoes
can transmit potentially fatal diseases like West Nile virus,
dengue fever and malaria.
Learn more about the stinging and biting insects that are likely
to frequent your backyard this summer with the following mosquito
facts and facts about wasps and other summer pests.
- Mosquitoes: Only female mosquitoes
bite humans, as they need blood to reproduce. They find hosts by
detecting body heat and chemical signals, such as the carbon
dioxide we exhale. Studies have found that mosquitoes are generally
attracted to dark colors, women, beer drinkers and smelly
- Wasps: Wasps
feed on sweet liquids and are even known to get drunk off
fermenting juice in the late summer. In the autumn, inseminated
females will seek places to spend the winter, and may move inside
the home, especially if there is a cathedral ceiling present.
- Hornets: European
hornets live in colonies that may contain between 200-400
members. They tend to appear in late summer, and unlikemost other
stinging insects, are active at night. European hornets are
attracted to light and will repeatedly bang into lighted windows
when it's dark outside.
- Yellowjackets: Yellowjackets
live in colonies with up to 4,000 workers, so it's not surprising
that their nests can grow to very large sizes. In 2006, a farmer
found a yellowjacket nest had engulfed in his 1955 Chevrolet,
- Africanized "killer" bees: Africanized
bees defend their colonies and attack when threatened. They
have been known to chase people for more than a quarter of a mile
once they get excited. If you are being chased by Africanized bees,
run in a zigzag pattern and seek shelter in a house or car. Do not
jump in water because the bees will just wait around for you to
come up for air.
- Scorpions: There are about 70 scorpion species in the
United States. The Arizona Bark Scorpion, which is found in the
American southwest and in Northern Mexico, is the most dangerous.
are nocturnal pests, so they hide during the day and are active at
night. If food becomes scare, scorpion mothers have been known to
eat their offspring when they are old enough to venture out on
- Fire Ants: Red imported fire
ants get their common name from their ability to inflict
painful bites and stings. Originally from Brazil, fire ants were
introduced to the U.S. in 1933 and are now found throughout the
southern part of the country. They are attracted to electrical
junction boxes and have been known to infest them en masse, causing
the equipment to malfunction. Red imported fire ants have a unique
way of dealing with floods. A displaced colony will form a ball and
act as a raft on flood rivers until it encounters dry land.
Want to learn more about the bugs of summer? Read some other
interesting facts about summer pests, and discover answers to
questions like, "Why do fireflies light up?" and "Which pest bleeds
from its knees?"