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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 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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Heading to a snake call in Griffin Ga.
by Jason Arruda
May 09, 2022 02:31:20 pm.

Bats and carpenter bees are flying , Hampton to Ellen, off to demorest, snakes in Hoschton.
by Chris Collender
May 05, 2022 08:49:43 am.

Bats and carpenter bees are in full effect, From Rome, ga to Hampton, ga, then off to Atlanta. Busy times
by Chris Collender
Apr 28, 2022 11:15:13 am.

Busy critter day today, went to locus grove for some bats, Riverdale to get some squirrels, several Atlanta stops, of course rats, then ended in Marietta, rats again
by Chris Collender
Apr 11, 2022 07:25:46 pm.

Beautiful weather, bats are flying, and squirrels are breading, good times. Athens to snellville, over to Stone Mountain, then out to Atlanta
by Chris Collender
Apr 08, 2022 09:31:43 am.

Rain, rain go away, Chris C wants to do Some quotes today, Morganton(flyers), Carrollton(rats), College Park(raccoons), Brookhaven(squirrels)
by Chris Collender
Apr 05, 2022 02:15:46 pm.

Macon, Warner Robins, Perry and Forsyth Ga today bidding jobs and warranty services. Got crews all over south Ga as well sealing homes against bats and squirrels.
by Jason Arruda
Apr 04, 2022 02:12:52 pm.

Customer in Macon Ga.called in having issues with snakes entering her basement. Going out there now.
by Jason Arruda
Apr 01, 2022 10:28:59 am.

Mouse droppings in the pantry? Bats in the gables? Rats overtaking your living area? Squirrels nesting in your attic? Noises in the walls? Scratching noises coming from you attic? Snakes in your crawl space? We handle them all.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 31, 2022 04:29:56 pm.

Got critters? Squirrels, bats,rats, raccoons, birds etc. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee give a call for a free consultation.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 31, 2022 12:34:04 pm.

Newnan this morning for raccoons, then off to sharpsburg for mice and down to Atlanta for rats.
by Chris Collender
Mar 29, 2022 02:15:53 pm.

Crazy week so far, bats and carpenter bees are in full swing, from Athens to Suwannee, over to Duluth then to Alpharetta and Atlanta. Now this morning, I am in conyers with rats and squirrels
by Chris Collender
Mar 23, 2022 10:48:04 am.

Busy day today. Leaving a Tifton Ga bat quote that we’re going to seal next week. Headed to Coolidge Ga for another bat quote. Droppings on the driveway got the customers attention and squeaky sounds coming from the attic. Give us a call.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 21, 2022 12:24:07 pm.

Yesterday was another busy day, Ellijay had some flyers, then to norcross for rats, Athens with grey squirrels and woodstock with bats and rats
by Chris Collender
Mar 16, 2022 08:03:54 am.

Rats in temple ga, squirrels are running crazy in Dallas, ga
by Chris Collender
Mar 14, 2022 09:16:15 am.

Bats and squirrels today in Macon, Warner Robins and Perry Ga. Going out to give free quotes today to help protect their homes and businesses.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 10, 2022 06:55:24 am.

Bats are flying, went from lula ga, to bogart, down to newnan and McDonough.
by Chris Collender
Mar 09, 2022 01:59:40 pm.

Busy day, did 2 quotes for rats, Locus grove and then Atlanta, then headed to Marietta, squirrels and more squirrels
by Chris Collender
Feb 28, 2022 07:30:00 pm.

Went to blue ridge, flyers in the metal roof, headed to Atlanta with rats in the basement
by Chris Collender
Feb 14, 2022 11:15:00 am.

Not a bad day, flyers in McDonough, rats in dacula and Decatur, headed to Marietta now for squirrels
by Chris Collender
Feb 07, 2022 12:25:06 pm.

Squirrels in Douglasville to Rome with flyers, lots of stops todyab
by Chris Collender
Feb 03, 2022 02:41:31 pm.

Not a bad day, Gainesville for mice, Covington and Riverdale for squirrels,and then Smyrna for a insulation quote
by Chris Collender
Jan 31, 2022 02:39:05 pm.

Busy day, was in Rome for squirrels, then powder springs and Atlanta for rats
by Chris Collender
Jan 26, 2022 06:14:43 pm.

The snow didn’t stop me nor the animals, was in Hiawasse, Duluth, Snellville, and then Marietta
by Chris Collender
Jan 18, 2022 04:41:40 pm.

Will be a cold and windy day today. Guys will be out working hard to seal homes, preventing all kinds of pest animals from getting in. Animals like rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons and opossums want out of the cold too. Pest animals beware.
by Richard Adcock
Jan 17, 2022 06:39:14 am.

Pretty good day in the office yesterday. We accepted new pest animal removal jobs in Grayson, Athens, Duluth, Fayetteville, Chamblee, Marietta, Monroe & Canton to name a few. For the best pest animal control service call Ridacritter today!
by Richard Adcock
Jan 14, 2022 07:43:04 am.

Currently in Monroe ga, squirrel job, headed to Atlanta now for rats in the crawl space
by Chris Collender
Jan 13, 2022 10:01:40 am.

Quoted a house in flowery branch with rats, then Gainesville for flyers now off to Cummings for squirrels
by Chris Collender
Jan 10, 2022 09:29:58 am.

Baby it’s cold outside, lilburn, lawrenceville, and McDonough, all 3 calls where squirrels chewing threw the ceiling into the house
by Chris Collender
Jan 04, 2022 12:01:10 pm.

Beginning of another great year in the pest critter control, removal and prevention business. Call Ridacritter for a quote so you can be critter free. We service metro areas of Atlanta, Macon, Albany, Valdosta, Birmingham and many more.
by Richard Adcock
Jan 03, 2022 06:52:37 am.

We have new pest animal removal jobs in Birmingham, Lawrenceville, Hoover, Alpharetta, Marietta, Stonecrest and Smyrna to name a few. Crews will be providing free quotes for removal & prevention of critters in homes and attics.
by Richard Adcock
Dec 28, 2021 08:47:39 am.

Busy day after the Holidays, in Austell for snakes in the basement, then to Duluth and Stonecrest for squirrels, now on my way to Alpharetta for another quote
by Chris Collender
Dec 27, 2021 01:06:28 pm.

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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