Paper wasps get their common name from the paper-like material out of which they make their nests. Paper wasps are sometimes called umbrella wasps, after the shape of their distinctive nests.
Paper wasps are semi-social and live in small colonies. They eat nectar and other insects including caterpillars and flies. In the autumn, inseminated females will seek places to spend the winter, and may find their way indoors, especially if there is a cathedral ceiling present.
Paper wasps hang their comb nests from twigs and branches of trees and shrubs, porch ceilings, the tops of window and door frames, soffits, eaves, attic rafters, deck floor joists and railings, etc.
While not an aggressive species by nature, paper wasps will sting if they are disturbed or their nest is threatened. Wasp stings are painful and can cause the same risk of allergic reaction as other insect stings.
There are several species of yellow jackets. These flying insects typically have a yellow and black head/face and patterned abdomen.
Yellow jackets are social insects that live in nests or colonies with up to 4,000 workers. They are most active in the late summer and early autumn when a colony is at its peak. Yellow jackets feed on sweets and proteins, and therefore commonly invade outdoor events.
Yellow jackets can be found anywhere humans are found. They build paper carton nests out of chewed up cellulose, which are usually found in the ground or in cavernous areas such as eaves and attics.
Yellow jacket stings pose significant health threats to humans, as they are territorial and will sting if threatened. They are known to sting repeatedly and can cause allergic reactions. Yellow jackets and other stinging insects send over 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
Carpenter bees look like typical bumblebees but often lack yellow stripes. This type of stinging bee gets its common name from its habit of boring into wood like a carpenter.
Unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. The adult carpenter bees hibernate over winter, typically in abandoned nest tunnels and emerge in the spring to feed on nectar.
Carpenter bees do not live in nests or colonies. Instead, female carpenter bees bore circular holes through soft wood to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.
Carpenter bees are a serious property threat, as they can cause structural damage over time if left untreated. Male carpenter bees can be territorial and may hover in front of one’s face aggressively, but they have no stinger and these actions are merely for show. Female carpenter bees do have a potent stinger, but it’s rarely used.
Bumblebees are considered a beneficial insect because they pollinate crops and plants, however, they can sting.
The occupant of a disturbed bumble bee nest will buzz in a loud volume. They defend their nests aggressively.
Bumble bees often nest in the ground, but can be found above ground around patio areas or decks. They will sometimes build their nest in soffits of attics.
As part of their aggressive defense of their nests, bumble bees will chase nest invaders for a considerable distance. The bumble bee sting is one of the most painful. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees can sting more than once.