Enjoy the Outdoors without the Sting of Wasps, Yellow Jackets and Bees

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The late summer and fall months are popular times to be outdoors, but it's also the most active season for stinging insects like wasps, yellow jackets and carpenter bees. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that during these months, stinging insects are busy scavenging for food to prepare for the winter. They are often attracted to backyard barbecues and picnics, which increases your chances of being stung. In fact, the NPMA reports that stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room every year.

Here are a few facts to help you protect yourself from stinging insects this season:

  • Unlike some stinging insect species, wasps are known for their unprovoked aggression. A single colony of wasps can contain more than 15,000 members, so an infestation should not be taken lightly.
  • Some stinging insects can build their nests in the ground, including yellow jackets and velvet ants, which despite their name are a species of wasp. Velvet ants have a painful, needlelike stinger that can provoke an allergic reaction. Over-seeding your yard provides more coverage and discourages these pests from nesting on your property.
  • Painting or staining untreated wood in fences, decks, swing sets and soffits will help keep stinging insects such as carpenter bees out. Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees and create nests by drilling tunnels into soft wood, which over time, can severely compromise the stability of a structure.
  • Only female carpenter bees have stingers. Female carpenter bees will only sting if threatened, but reactions to these stings can range from mild irritation to life-threatening respiratory distress.
  • The NPMA recommends inspecting your property frequently for signs of a stinging insect infestation. Common nesting sites include under eaves, on ceiling beams in attics, garages and sheds and under porches. If you find a nest or suspect an infestation, it is critical that you hire a pest professional. Attempting to remove a nest on your own can be extremely dangerous.

For more information on stinging insects, including prevention tips and pest guides, visit www.pestworld.org.