Identify stinging insects

There are many thousands of species in the world, but we will try to point out the good and not so good facts about some of the most common  bee, hornets and wasps found in the USA.
Hornet / Wasp

Honey Bee. The whole reason for this website.  A social bee that is not commonly aggressive.  One of 4% of all bee species that actual makes honey.  They also have barbed stingers which accounts for the demise when stinging humans or some other animals as the stinger will get stuck and the honey bee is dismembered in the process.  They are dropping in numbers and need our help.

Common Wasp .  AKA yellow jacket. One of the many species of wasps.  Often aggressive when you get near their nest (often underground), they do not have a barbed stinger and can repeatedly sting.  They can often become bothersome in the fall.  For the specific reason why, watch the video below.

Bumble Bee .  A social bee that often makes it’s nest underground in abandoned mouse holes.  A queen looking for a new nesting place has been known to chase the mouse occupant out.  They are excellent pollinators and not aggressive.  Although, if you get too close they may do a “buzz by”  to let you know they aren’t happy with your proximity.  

Bald Faced Hornet.  Is actually in the wasp family and related to the yellow jacket.  And like it’s relative, can be just as nasty.  Avoidance is key.  The will make a large paper nest usually higher up in tress but can also be found under an eave or overhang.  They do have nest protective traits so stay back.  They do not reuse their nests so at least they won’t be there next spring.

Carpenter Bee  One of largest native bees, they are typically very gentle.  But as the name implies, they will bore into wood to lay their eggs.  Considered solitary, but they may live up to 3 years and it is not uncommon for daughters to live with their mother for some time.  They are good pollinators but this is often offset by the damage the holes may cause to fence posts and other structures.

Cicada Killer Wasp  A solitary wasp that is typically not aggressive.  However, the queen has a large non-barbed stinger that is used to inject venom into a cicada and can be very painful to a human.  They do not have the nest protection traits of other insects so it is possible  to  approach them without being attacked.  They nest in the soil.

European Hornet. First reported in the US in the 1840’s a worker can average about 1 inch long and a queen can be up to 1.5 inches.  Their stinger is non barbed to they can sting multiple times and the venom can cause pain for 24 hours or more.  Often mistaken for the Giant Asian Hornet.

Mud Dauber Wasp.  A solitary wasp that as their name implies, uses mud to make their nests,  The nests can vary in size and are often found under eaves and other structures.  Typically non aggressive.  The queen will use a spider as food for the hatching wasps.  Laying one egg on every spider she catches.  So if you hate spiders….

Northern Paper Wasp.   Is a social wasp  mostly found in the East and southern US.  They prefer to nest around wooded areas as they use wood to make their paper nest.  If left alone they are not terribly aggressive, but will sting if they feel you are a threat or get in the way of something they want.  

Mason Bee A solitary bee that is a prolific pollinator.  They nest in tubes or holes usually around 5/8 ”  in diameter. They do have the ability to sting but this is not common.  Many buy prebuilt Mason bee homes to encourage their presence  because they are such good pollinators.

Blue Winged Wasp   A solitary wasp that is considered very beneficial.  After mating, they can often be found flying inches off the ground looking for grubs to lay their eggs on.  The hatching wasp will then use the grub as food.  They certainly can sting but are not considered aggressive so they would have to feel threatened before defending themselves.

Asian Giant Hornet  AKA the murder hornet is the world’s largest hornet. Recently discovered in Washington state, they have caused a lot of anxiety.  Not only due to their size and potentially damaging sting, but also due to the fact that a few solitary hornets can completely decimate an entire honey bee hive.  Honey bees in the US have not learned how to defend themselves against these marauders which can grow to 2 inches in length!