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Wasp, Hornet, and Stinging Insect Control

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Regional Office of Rid-A-Critter

Two yellow jacket wasps tending the young in their cells in a honeycomb type paper nest

There are more than 100,000 different species of wasps in the world. Luckily, we only have a few of them in the Athens, Georgia area. The ones mentioned on this page are a few of the ones we encounter most often in our region.

Wasps and bees are distance cousins, but they're not the same insects. One of the things that makes wasps different from bees is that bees make honey, but wasps don't. Bees are also much more important as pollinators, although many wasps pollinate, as well. Nonetheless, a lot of folks refer to all stinging insects as "bees," which greatly insults and annoys the real bees. So for the record, most stinging insects in Georgia are wasps, not bees. Hornets and yellow jackets, for example, are wasp species, not bee species.

Wasp species vary quite a bit in terms of their their habits, life cycle, biology, and aggressiveness. Some wasps are relatively mellow, like most of the paper wasps and mud daubers. Unless you bother them, they'll most likely leave you alone. Other wasps, like yellow jackets and hornets, are much quicker to attack and do so much more aggressively. Hornets are the most aggressive wasps of all in our area and will sometimes attack people who are as far as 20 feet away if they feel in the least-bit threatened threatened. When hornets attack, it's all-out warfare.

What this means from a practical standpoint is that unless you're absolutely certain what kind of wasps you're dealing with and how aggressive they are, you really shouldn't attempt to take care of a wasp problem yourself. Seriously. You may very well get stung; and if the wasps happen to be one of the really ornery species like yellow jackets or hornets, you may get stung multiple times. They can put a real hurting on you. So be safe. Call us instead.

Lets take a look at some of the wasps most commonly found in Athens and throughout Georgia.

Baldfaced Hornets

Baldfaced hornets nest in a tree

A baldfaced hornets' nest in a tree

Baldfaced hornets are among the most aggressive wasps in the world. It's often said that they'll attack if you even look at them funny, and that's not far from the truth. Hornets post two or three "sentries" outside their nests whose job it is to fly around and keep an eye out for attackers. When they see something that they don't like, they call to the rest of the nest, and the attack begins.

The problem is that different hornets have different ideas as to what constitutes a threat. Some are more skittish than others. So it's perfectly possible for you to walk past the same hornets' nest every day and be ignored, but then get attacked when walking past it on another day. If a sentry calls out the troops, the troops will respond, regardless of who's doing sentry duty that day.

Baldfaced hornets are stocky in shape, predominantly black, and have white or light yellow markings. They build exposed, oblong-shaped nests out of paper, with entry holes toward the bottom, usually suspended from tree branches, ceilings, or power lines. They may also build nests in void areas like attics, but they seem to prefer building then outdoors. Maybe they like the view better.

When hornets attack, they do so as a group, with hundreds or thousands of wasps taking part in the attack. Their stings are very painful, and if you get stung by enough of them, they can cause a serious reaction -- even if you're not especially allergic to insect stings. If you get stung by hornets and suffer more than localized pain and swelling around the stings, seek medical attention immediately.

European Hornets

Top view of a European hornet

European hornets are common in Georgia

European hornets are larger wasps than their baldfaced hornet cousins and have beautifully-colored, burnt orange bodies with black and yellow markings. They also have a very loud, distinctive, frightening buzz that they use to scare away predators.

European hornets usually build their nests in void areas like hollow trees, wall voids, roof soffits, abandoned cars, or other secluded areas; so when you're outside, you're much more likely to come across the insects themselves than their nests. You can tell when you're getting close, however, because the nests have a very strong, distinctive, and unpleasant odor. When they build a nest in a house, the odor inside the home can get strong enough to be unbearable.

Despite their large size, intimidating buzz, and foul smell, European hornets are somewhat less aggressive than baldfaced hornets. Maybe it's true that Europeans are more refined than we are. But don't sell them short: When European hornets do attack, they do so with gusto. They attack in great numbers, and their stings are intensely painful.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jacket wasp

Yellow jacket wasps are common in Athens and throughout Georgia

There are many different wasps that are commonly called "yellow jackets," some of which are quite aggressive. The ones we get in Georgia are usually various species in the genus Vespula and are collectively known as "vespids." The one in the picture on the right is also known as the European wasp or the German yellow jacket, Vespula germanica.

Yellow jackets build paper nests that are usually round if exposed, but conform to the shape of the void when they're built in enclosed places. The nests can range in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter. In nature, they build their nests in hollow trees and other void areas, or sometimes in the ground. They can also be found in rock walls, old cars, and abandoned animal burrows. In homes, they usually build their nests in wall or ceiling voids, attics, or soffits.

Yellow jackets range from moderately to highly aggressive. They're less likely to attack you just for looking at them funny like hornets do, but they won't hesitate to attack you if you get too close to their nest or do something else that they perceive to be a threat. To further complicate matters, they don't always build their nests right near their visible entry holes. You may see the wasps going into a hole, but their nest might be 10 or 15 feet away inside the void.

As a general rule, if you see yellow jackets going into and coming out of a hole in a building, rock wall, electrical box, or anything else in which they may have built a nest, be careful in that area. And call us.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps on a nest

There are many species of paper wasps in Georgia

The term "paper wasp" is a generic one that refers to any wasps (except hornets or yellow jackets) that build nests out of paper that they make themselves by chewing wood. Most of the time, they build open nests, meaning that there's no covering of paper around them. You can look right into the cells of the nest. They tend to build their nests in exposed areas that are shielded from rain on the top, such as under soffits and awnings or on window frames.

Most paper wasps are solitary, some are fully social, and some are loosely social. Most species are more neighborly than truly social because they don't actually have any strict rules about division of labor; but they will build nests nearby each other, occasionally share a nest, and even baby-sit each others' young. But it's a more haphazard arrangement than one would find with true social wasps like hornets or yellow jackets. Some species, however, are fully social with castes, divisions of labor, and a queen.

Most paper wasps are not very aggressive, but they will defend themselves if they feel threatened. A few species, however, are very territorial and will defend their homes aggressively. Unless you know the temperament of the wasps you're dealing with, it's best to keep your distance.

Cicada Killers

Cicada killer wasp

Cicada killers are large, solitary, soil-dwelling wasps that prey on cicadas.

Cicada killers (sometimes called "lawn wasps") are very interesting insects. Their coloration is similar to that of a yellow jacket, but they're much bigger than yellow jackets and build nests only in burrows that they excavate in the soil.

Female cicada killers catch and paralyze cicadas, drag them into the underground burrows, and lay eggs on the cicadas. In the case of male eggs, a single egg is laid on a single cicada and sealed into a cell. Female eggs, however, are sealed into a cell with several cicadas because female cicada killers are larger and need more food to grow and develop. Within a few days, the eggs hatch, and the larvae start eating the cicadas. It's pretty gruesome.

Many people are terrified of cicada killers because of their large size, loud buzz and aggressive flight. The males fly quite aggressively and engage other male cicada killers in what looks like mortal combat to defend their territories. But the males completely lack stingers and are unable to do harm to humans. Female cicada killers have stingers, but they seldom sting unless you physically assault them in some way (by stepping on them, swatting them, etc.). The females' stingers and venom are adapted to paralyzing cicadas, not defense.

Cicada killers are disliked mainly because of the damage they do to lawns and their aggressive, frightening flight habits. The holes they make are rather large and quite noticeable, and they tend to dig a lot of them. It's not uncommon to come across lawns with hundreds of cicada killer holes.

Digger Bees

Digger bees are true bees (as opposed to wasps) that make their nests in the ground. They're relatively passive and rarely sting, but they can do extensive damage to lawns.

Because they can be present in very large numbers, digger bees can be very intimidating. They are not very aggressive, but they will sting if they're threatened.

Stinging Insect Gallery

Here are some pictures of wasp, hornet, and other stinging insect work we've done in and around the Athens area.

 

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Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
by Amber A.
Jul 23, 2021 06:29:58 pm.

We have a crew treating paper wasps in the attic of a house in Winder, Georgia. The wasps have been getting into the living area of the house, probably through the recessed lighting. We'll remove the wasps and screen the gable vents to help prevent future wasp problems.
by Webmaster
Jun 25, 2021 10:56:05 am.

Hope everyone stayed dry from the rain but if you got flooded with animals we can get them out!
by Amber A.
Jun 21, 2021 06:32:40 pm.

We can remove animals from the structure, as well as seal up your home, but if those pesky critters left behind any excrement, we offer cleanup as well as insulation replacement! Call for a quote!
by Amber A.
Jun 18, 2021 06:34:50 pm.

Happy Monday! Hope everyone has a wonderful and productive week! And if animals are keeping you up at night, give us a call!
by Amber A.
Jun 14, 2021 05:59:26 pm.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!
by Amber A.
Jun 12, 2021 07:23:35 pm.

It’s a competition between bats and raccoons getting up in the attics the last few days! If it’s in your attic, we can get it!
by Amber A.
Jun 11, 2021 06:04:09 pm.

The rain seems to be driving the animals in! We can get them out!
by Amber A.
Jun 10, 2021 06:04:42 pm.

The rain doesn’t scare the animals away! If you’ve noticed one taking shelter in your home, give us a call!
by Amber A.
Jun 07, 2021 07:24:17 pm.

Out and about in LaGrange Ga on snake calls. Give us a call for a free quote today.
by Jason Arruda
May 25, 2021 02:16:41 pm.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!
by Amber A.
May 21, 2021 06:06:17 pm.

Happy Friday!! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
by Amber A.
May 14, 2021 06:04:38 pm.

I think there was more animal activity outside then inside today! If they get in, we can get them out!
by Amber A.
May 13, 2021 06:10:20 pm.

Cooler weather coming in means the animals coming in! We can help! :)
by Amber A.
May 11, 2021 06:58:32 pm.

Here's What Happens When a Trainee Drops His Cell Phone Inside a Wall
by Webmaster
May 04, 2021 10:23:55 am.

What a Monday! Hope everyone stays safe out there!
by Amber A.
May 03, 2021 06:03:57 pm.

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!
by Amber A.
Apr 30, 2021 06:13:44 pm.

A crew from our Athens office is on their way to find and remove a yellow jackets nest from a house in Hoschton, Georgia. The wasps are getting into the upstairs bedroom through the recessed lights. The nest is probably in the attic.
by Webmaster
Mar 31, 2021 10:40:39 am.

We got a call about yellow jacket wasps building a nest in a house in Athens, Georgia. We have a crew on the way to find the nest and treat the yellow jacket problem.
by Webmaster
Mar 30, 2021 10:12:48 am.

We're Checking Out a Yellow Jacket Hole into a House in Athens, Georgia
by Webmaster
Mar 26, 2021 08:58:45 am.

Hope everyone stays safe from the storms. Listen out for animals, they might be taking shelter too!
by Amber A.
Mar 17, 2021 05:45:47 pm.

Today is a wonderful day to call Ridacritter for all of your nuisance animal exclusion needs! We cover rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, and more!
by Jake A.
Mar 12, 2021 02:54:13 pm.

We're just about finished bat-proofing a house in Bogart, Georgia. The bats are all gone and have been sealed out of the attic. Now we have to vacuum up and dispose of the guano and replace the attic insulation.
by Webmaster
Mar 12, 2021 10:02:59 am.

Warm weather brought out calls for several animals today! From Snakes, to squirrels, mice and bees!!
by Amber A.
Mar 10, 2021 07:41:48 pm.

Rats, mice and squirrels today. Wildlife repairs with trapping. Animal exclusion needed call us for a free quote.
by Jason Arruda
Feb 25, 2021 10:58:52 am.

Rainy all over Georgia it seems like. Hard for us to keep dry when we’re determined to evict the animals and seal to keep them out. In Albany Ga now for a couple quotes and then to Zebulon Ga for another quote for squirrels removal. Be safe
by Jason Arruda
Feb 18, 2021 11:10:35 am.

Headed over to Albany Georgia for a quote to exclude squirrels.
by Jason Arruda
Feb 02, 2021 11:44:36 am.

Give Ridacritter a call for any of your nuisance animal needs. From Bats, to Bees, Squirrels, to Rats, Ridacritter solves all of your problems. Call for an exclusion today!
by Jake A.
Jan 30, 2021 10:25:50 am.

Very busy right now. Lots of squirrels and rats in the Birmingham and surrounding areas. Looks like bats are flying already as I’ve got several bat jobs to look at this week. Had a customer yesterday with squirrels and bats.
by Chris Scott
Jan 26, 2021 08:07:01 am.

In Auburn Alabama quoting exclusions for gray squirrels today.
by Jason Arruda
Jan 07, 2021 11:01:30 am.

Lots of squirrel and rat calls today. From Birmingham to Anniston.
by Chris Scott
Jan 07, 2021 09:46:52 am.

In Alpharetta, Ga this morning providing a clearance letter to a customer so their buyers can rest assured they’re purchasing a Critter Free home. Did I mention our Warranty is 100% transferable??
by Tim McDavid
Jan 05, 2021 09:29:57 am.

The Athens, Georgia office of Rid-A-Critter provides wasp, hornet, and stinging insect control in Athens-Clarke, Greene, and parts of Barrow, Gwinnett, Hall, Banks, Jackson, and Oconee Counties in Georgia, including Athens, Auburn, Bogart, Commerce, Good Hope, Greensboro, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Watkinsville, and Winder. We are fully licensed and insured. Your town not listed? Contact us.

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