Stinging Insects: The Do's And Don'ts

stinging insect nest

When it comes to desirable, welcome visitors, stinging insects are typically not at the top of the list. Stinging insects can be difficult to get rid of, especially without professional assistance. They can also be dangerous for homeowners who don’t know how to solve a stinging insect problem. While many of us have seen and been around different types of stinging insects in nature, responding to an infestation invading the home is often intimidating. The good news is that having the knowledge of the do's and don’ts around handling a stinging insect problem can help homeowners immensely in not only removing the insects effectively but also making sure that it is done safely.

Do: Identity From A Safe Distance

If you can identify the nest from a safe distance- about 8 to 10 meters- it can be very helpful to know what type of nest you are looking at. If you know what type of stinging insect nest is on your property, you will have a better plan of action in removing it. Homeowners should not attempt to approach a nest too closely, especially if high activity levels outside the nest can be observed. If you see an open nest with hexagonal cells, this indicates a wasp nest. Wasp behavior changes in late summer because their preferred food sources shift from sugar to protein. As a result, you may see wasps more frequently as they search for food. The nest will also typically have an umbrella shape and may contain 100 wasps at most. A hornet nest will resemble the shape of a football surrounded by smooth walls.

Hornets are extremely protective of their nests and have potent venom. Because of this, you may want to create an even greater distance than 8 to 10 meters. Yellow jackets have nests that have a wavy pattern and are gray or brown in color. Yellow jackets are a particularly social insect, and you may see them flying around outside the nest from a concealed opening. Yellow Jacket nests can contain thousands, so if you see an unusual number of them around your property, it may indicate that a nest is nearby.

Don’t: Rely On DIY Methods

Some people may feel that they could successfully remove the nest without assistance, but doing so greatly increases the risk of getting stung or putting other people or pets at risk for getting stung. Setting the nest on fire or trying to “smoke out” a nest puts you at risk for getting burned or losing control of the fire. As obvious as it may sound, hitting the nest with a baseball bat, racket, club, shovel, or other tool is a recipe for disaster. Doing so will only aggravate the insects more and will put you in a closer and therefore vulnerable location in relation to the nest. This also puts you at risk of getting stung multiple times.

Store-bought pesticides are not effective, and can be harmful to you, others, and pets. Pest professionals use special equipment and protective suits designed to guard against stinging insects. While these tools are highly effective, they are not available to the public. Although a spray may kill an insect in flight, it will not be effective against an entire nest. Overall, treating a nest all on your own will put you and your family at high risk, especially if someone is allergic.

Do: Protect Yourself When Inspecting Your Home

If you haven’t found a nest but believe that you do have one somewhere, it’s important to protect yourself prior and during an inspection around your home. Even in warm weather, wear long pants, sleeves, gloves, and closed-toe shoes- some stinging insects make their nests in the ground, so you don’t want to step on or near one in bare feet! Common places to look for stinging insects include:

  • Decks

  • Eaves

  • Patios

  • Attics

  • Fences

  • Trees

  • Gardens

  • Drinking fountains

  • Overhangs

  • Wood

  • Hollow structures

As always, make sure to keep a safe distance when inspecting, and approach slowly- quick or aggressive movements can aggravate the insects and encourage them to attack. Because of this behavior, do not swat at or wave your arms around the nest or the insects, even if it’s just one. If the insect is getting a little too close for comfort, slowly and calmly move away from the insect until it leaves you alone.

Don’t: Leave Out Things That Could Attract Them

Stinging insects are attracted to different things, so knowing what attracts them can help New Haven homeowners avoid coming into contact with them. Many stinging insects are attracted to sugar and protein. If you leave food outside, particularly meat or sweets, there’s a good chance that more than a few stinging insects will come by to feed. If you are eating outside, remember to seal all food or bring it inside to avoid attracting insects. Soda cans or other sweet drinks can also attract stinging insects, so make sure to check before you take a sip! Trash cans also attract stinging insects, so make sure to keep them covered and away from where people are gathering. These insects may also be attracted to sweet smells like scented perfume, cologne, or lotion, so if you will be spending some time outside, it may be a good idea to leave the sweet smells at home.

Do: Stay Calm

If you are being bothered by stinging insects, there are certain things you may want to do to avoid being attacked. It’s important not to wave or bat your arms around the insects, as this can aggravate and provoke them to become aggressive. Do not try to kill one of the insects either, as some of them will emit pheromones after being killed that will attract other insects and encourage them to attack. If you do have to run away, you should run in a straight line, again without waving your arms. Jumping into a body of water is also not recommended, as stinging insects such as wasps will only wait for you to emerge. When it comes to stinging insects, the best thing for anyone to do is to always remain calm.

Don’t: Neglect Inspecting Areas Where There Might Be Stinging Insects

Stinging insects are most active in the warmer months during the summer, so it may be a good idea to inspect areas that you know you or others- especially young children, elderly people, or pets are going to be spending an extended period of time. Slowly approach common areas for stinging insects to hang out in. Typical hang-out spots for stinging insects include:

  • Gardens 

  • Hoses

  • Fences

  • Fountains

  • Playground equipment

  • Decks 

  • Patios

  • Sheds

If you do find a nest or a large number of stinging insects in an area, try to find an alternative spot to enjoy if you can. If not, make sure to let others know that there are stinging insects nearby, and to instruct small children to avoid the area.

Do: Have A Professional Solve Your Stinging Insect Problem

Stinging insects are often appreciated and even beneficial in nature, but many people have problems with stinging insects that may become bothersome or even life-threatening. Once again, attempting to remove a nest or kill stinging insects is very risky, especially for those who are allergic. In addition, using a home or store-bought remedy may only temporarily work, or none at all. Removing stinging insects is not a “spray and forget about it” task. This is something that is best left to someone who has the equipment necessary to successfully remove the stinging insects without putting you or others at risk for being stung. If stinging insects are becoming a problem in your home, make sure you call us at Connecticut Pest Elimination so that your home remains safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.