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Wasp, Yellow Jacket, and Stinging Insect Control

Wasps are insects in the order Hymenoptera, which also includes ants and bees. The majority of stinging insects in Chattanooga and all of Tennessee are wasps of some variety. Hornets and yellow jackets in particular, both of which are wasps, are the most aggressive stinging insects in Tennessee and the most likely to launch unprovoked attacks. (Honey bees, on the other hand, rarely attack unless they are threatened.)

Not all wasps sting people, however. Some possess stingers only to paralyze their prey, not as a defense against attackers. Other wasps have no stingers at all. In some species, both exceptions are true. For example, male cicada killer wasps have no stingers at all, and females use their stingers to paralyze cicadas. Yes, they'll sting you if you're rude enough to do something like stick your finger in their nest holes, but that's not the primary purpose of their stingers.

Unlike bees, wasps do not produce honey. They're also not significant pollinators. Although some wasp species do some incidental pollination while foraging for nectar, it's not enough for them to be considered important agricultural pollinators.

Yellow Jackets

Close up of a yellow jacket wasp

There are many insects commonly referred to as "yellow jackets," but the term properly refers a the particular wasp shown here, the European or German Yellow Jacket, Vespula germanica. In the more common sense, the term is applied to a wide variety of wasps in the genus Vespula that have some yellow in their coloration and build nests in enclosed voids. Because of their similar habits, their treatment also is basically the same.

Yellow jackets build paper nests in protected voids such as attics, crawl spaces, wall voids, and soffits of homes; rock walls; hollow trees and stumps; old cars; abandoned animal burrows; sheds; and many other protected areas. Their nests can range from a few inches to several feet in size, and may contain from a few dozen to tens of thousands of individual insects. In large voids like attics, their nests are round or oblong in shape; but in smaller voids, they conform to the shape and size of the void.

Yellow jackets can be very aggressive. Like hornets, yellow jackets attack in great numbers when threatened, and their stings are very painful. They're somewhat less likely than hornets to attack unless provoked, however. Hornets will attack you if you look at them funny. Yellow jackets tend to wait until you do something more overtly threatening such as swat at them or get very close to their nest.

Because yellow jackets build their nests in protected voids, it's important to locate the nest when treating a yellow jacket problem. Treating the nest directly assures a clean kill with little chance of yellow jackets getting into the living areas of the home. That's why it's important not to just treat or plug the holes where you see yellow jackets going into and out of the house. You'll just annoy them, and that's a very unwise thing to do.

Paper Wasps

Close up of paper wasps walking on a nest tending their young

"Paper wasps" is a generic common name applied to a large number of wasp species in the genus Polistes who share the common habit of building unenclosed paper nests. They usually build these nests in areas that are somewhat protected from rain such as on porch ceilings, around door and window frames, inside soffits, and in other outdoor or semi-outdoor areas.

Most paper wasps are capable of delivering intensely painful stings, but they also tend to be non-aggressive. I remember as a child watcing a paper wasp building and tending to a nest on the porch ceiling for most of a summer. If she even noticed that I was there, she gave no sign of it. That's true for most paper wasps. If you leave them alone, they'll pretty much ignore you.

Some paper wasp species are true social wasps with organized colonies, castes, division of labor, and a queen who exerts control over the rest of the group. Other species aren't true social wasps, but often will build nests in the same area simply because it's a suitable place. They don't cooperate with each other in any meaningful way. They're basically just neighbors who don't hate each other.

Because of their non-aggressive nature, it's pretty much up to you whether or not you want to treat paper wasps. Their nests can be unsightly, so if that bothers you, then by all means give us a call. If you're allergic to insect stings, then by all means give us a call. Even a small risk of being stung is unacceptable if a sting can kill you. But if you're not allergic and the nests don't bother you, leaving paper wasps be is a perfectly-acceptable option.

Cicada Killers

Close up of a cicada killer wasp

Cicada killers (sometimes called "lawn wasps") are large, solitary wasps who build nests in the soil. They use their stingers to paralyze cicadas, which they then drag down into the nest holes. They lay an egg on the cicada, and when the egg hatches, the larval cicada killer wasp eats the paralyzed cicada. What can I tell you: Nature is always beautiful, but it ain't always pretty.

Male cicada killers can be terrifying unless you know that they're unarmed. They fly around aggressively, defending the nesting area from anyone or anything that gets too close. But the worst they can do is head-butt you. The males have no stingers. The females do have stingers, but rarely sting unless you stick your finger into their nest hole. And really, who can blame them? That would be pretty rude.

Nonetheless, cicada killers' aggressive flight can be disturbing to people, and they can do a whole lot of damage to lawns. They're considered genuine menances at golf courses, athletic fields, and other recreational areas. But other than that, they're basically harmless. Whether or not you want to treat a cicada killer problem in your own lawn is entirely up to you. Just be aware that if you don't treat a cicada killer problem this year, it probably will be a lot worse next year when those larval cicada killers are full-grown adults.

Digger Bees

Unlike the rest of the insects on this page, digger bees are true bees, not wasps. Many people call them "digger wasps," but technically speaking, they're bees. They're very unusual in that they're solitary bees who happen to live together, often in great numbers, in the same lawn; but there is little evidence of any meaningful cooperation or communication between the individual bees, and no queen calling the shots on behalf of the group.

Digger bees build their nests in the soil. Left untreated, they can cause tremendous damage to a lawn; and like cicada killers, if you don't treat it, it will only get worse every year. You can check out this video for an example of the kind of damage that digger bees can do to a lawn.

The sheer number of digger bees that can be flying around over a lawn is enough to intimidate people. As bees go, however, they tend to be passive. They'll sting if threatened or handled, but there's no guarding behavior or group attack instinct such as exist in honey bee or social wasp colonies.

Despite their docile nature, digger bees are a problem you'll probably want to treat. Left untreated, your lawn will eventually have more holes than grass. They really do a lot of damage.

Here are some pictures of wasps and wasp-control work our technicians have done in Tennessee and elsewhere.

Please contact us to learn more about wasp control in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee.

 

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Rainy days mean animals like to stay in. If you are hearing noises in your attic on this rainy day it could be more than rain.
by Dean Scott
Feb 13, 2020 09:27:56 am.

Going to Bainbridge Ga today for quotes for exclusions. Bats, rats and gray squirrels.
by Jason Arruda
Jan 23, 2020 11:05:03 am.

Excited to be at the Athens pest control conference this week. Let’s talk about wildlife and what services we provide to help.
by Jason Arruda
Jan 06, 2020 11:57:03 am.

New Blog Post: Happy New Year!
by Webmaster
Dec 31, 2019 11:39:15 am.

Want to put a stop to those pesky critters getting in your home for good? We can do that!!
by Jason Arruda
Dec 30, 2019 12:14:14 pm.

Heard it all. Squirrels in my attic, scratching noises in my attic, attic noises, animals partying in my attic, then there’s the crawlspace. Rats in my crawlspace, opossum in my crawlspace and there’s something dead in my crawlspace/attic.
by Jason Arruda
Dec 30, 2019 12:07:59 pm.

New Blog Post: Merry Christmas!
by Webmaster
Dec 24, 2019 11:07:00 am.

Just want to say. I’m so grateful for the relationships we have with the pest control companies in Georgia and Alabama and Tennessee. Thank you all for the referrals.
by Jason Arruda
Dec 19, 2019 01:01:20 pm.

A Squirrel Chewed its Way Into this House in Signal Mountain, Tennessee
by Webmaster
Dec 10, 2019 11:13:38 am.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Squirrels are busy this season as usual. I’m headed south to take a look at a commercial job in Macon for Bats. Yep bats their still hanging around with us despite the cooler temps. Have a good day.
by Jason Arruda
Dec 05, 2019 10:27:19 am.

New Blog Post: What Software Do We Use to Maintain this Site?
by Webmaster
Dec 04, 2019 06:29:03 pm.

New Blog Post: Happy Thanksgiving!
by Webmaster
Nov 27, 2019 11:45:10 am.

Late-Season Hornet's Nest Removal Job in Chattanooga
by Webmaster
Nov 12, 2019 10:51:44 am.

Havoc in you attic. Call us
by Jason Arruda
Oct 10, 2019 02:29:13 pm.

Having a blast down here in Tifton Ga at the GPCA Fall Conference meeting new clients. Glad to be in great relationships with the pest control industry.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 10, 2019 10:45:32 am.

Picture of a Guinea Wasp Nest at a House in Chattanooga
by Webmaster
Sep 26, 2019 10:09:39 am.

Been a busy day in South Georgia today with attic noises and scratching noises in walls. Squirrels are here.
by Jason Arruda
Sep 19, 2019 02:34:56 pm.

Squirrel calls are coming in. Is your home protected? Call us for a free quote today.
by Jason Arruda
Sep 04, 2019 12:40:03 pm.

Picture of a Four-Toothed Mason Wasp
by Webmaster
Sep 04, 2019 11:47:35 am.

Out seeing clients today in Birmingham, Anniston, Leeds and Center Point Alabama. Having issues with Nuisance animals in your home or business call us for a free quote.
by Jason Arruda
Aug 29, 2019 12:14:08 pm.

Headed south to Vidalia,Ga for a bat exclusion quote. Nice day today with cooler temps. Going to be a busy fall.
by Jason Arruda
Aug 26, 2019 11:29:27 am.

Getting a little squirrelly in Georgia. We’ve seen babies already.
by Jason Arruda
Aug 01, 2019 09:54:09 am.

In Warner Robins this morning and sold a exclusion. Gonna be another happy customer. Now headed to Valdosta to see some clients.
by Jason Arruda
Jul 25, 2019 01:42:30 pm.

Down here on Lake Blackshear quoting a home with what was thought to be bats. After evaluating the home it turns out to be Chimney Swifts which can’t be relocated due to being a migratory bird. We’ll be back to cap flue when they’re gone.
by Jason Arruda
Jul 22, 2019 01:37:32 pm.

Picture of the Inside of a Yellow Jackets' Nest
by Webmaster
Jul 03, 2019 11:39:25 am.

Love it when a really good song comes on the radio in between stops. Gets me a little squirrelly. Lol Have a Good Friday everyone.
by Jason Arruda
May 31, 2019 11:48:33 am.

Out seeing our wonderful clients in the pest control industry that refers us for wildlife (rats, bats, snakes, squirrels , bees, etc. Thank you from all of us!!
by Jason Arruda
May 30, 2019 01:45:40 pm.

Great day in Valdosta. I helped one of my clients customer with a honey bee problem and set them up for our technicians to quote extraction.
by Jason Arruda
May 07, 2019 03:13:38 pm.

Squirrels in my attic, rats in my crawl, bats flying in my house to snakes in my yard. Yes we can handle it all from Hiawassee to Valdosta .
by Jason Arruda
Apr 30, 2019 12:37:58 pm.

Awesome day in Macon Ga. visiting clients. South Ga. pest control companies are referring us more and more bat jobs. I explained that now is the season. Thank you for referring us
by Jason Arruda
Apr 04, 2019 02:36:39 pm.

Well it was a great day in Alabama seeing my Pest Control clients that refer us. If you don’t know by now majority of Pest Control companies refer us for squirrels, raccoons, rats, bats, bees and more. Now it time to head back to Georgia.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 28, 2019 03:24:50 pm.

Excluding animals is a continuous task. That’s why our Warranty Division is always hard at work keeping those reoccurring, persistent, and pesky Critters out of your home. Have you let your Warranty coverage lapse?? Get caught up today !!
by Tim McDavid
Mar 28, 2019 09:29:04 am.

The Chattanooga, Tennessee office of Rid-A-Critter provides wasp, yellow jacket, and stinging insect control in the Chattanooga, Tennessee Metro Area, including the counties of Hamilton, Marion, and Sequatchie, Tennesee and the cities and towns of Collegedale, Dunlap, East Brainerd, East Ridge, Harrison, Jasper, Lakeview, Middle Valley, Red Bank, Signal Mountain, Soddy-Daisy, and their surrounding areas.

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