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Identify Your Wisconsin Pest

[honey bees] [European paper wasp] [paper wasp] [hornets] [yellow jackets] [mud dauber]
[bumble bee] [carpenter bee] [mining bees] [asian beetle] [cluster fly] [box elder] [stink bug]


Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Honey Bees

...May establish a nest inside the wall of the house or other building causing a problem, a health hazard and a serious danger to the structure. Honey bees can only sting once and then they die so they are reluctant to sting unless attacked.

Honey bee colonies in wall or attic voids are a much more serious problem than yellow jacket wasps. Yellow jacket colonies are annual and the wasps will disappear in the winter with or without treatment. Honey bee nests may last for many years without treatment and will contain honey stored inside the walls. The honey can ruin walls and ceilings if it is not removed.

Combs inside buildings should be removed to avoid problems with honey-stained walls and pest problems, such as carpet beetles, and attracting bee swarms in the future.  Controlling honey bee nests can be challenging. Call a pest control specialist if you spot bees around or coming out of your home. 

European Paper
Wasp

European Paper Wasp - Pest control Wisconsin

European Paper Wasp Nest

Honey Bee

European Paper Wasp

The Invasive European Paper Wasp is often mistaken for a Yellow Jacket. A closer look reveals it is larger than an average Yellow Jacket and has a much slimmer waist.

The nest of the European Paper Wasp may be built out in the open, however, this insect prefers to put its nest in cavities, such as rain gutters, down spouts, plumbing vents, bird houses, pipes, hollow logs or trees, and the like. We have seen many in mailboxes and car mirrors.

Because of its propensity to nest in enclosed areas, the European wasp has become a threat to cavity nesting birds in North America and a danger to humans who might come upon a hidden nest or reach into something with one in it.

The European Paper Wasp is more aggressive than our native species of wasps. The older species are being displaced and replaced by this new non-native species. They get an earlier start in Spring and have been known to overtake newly built nests and kill the native Queens.

Every attempt should be made to limit suitable nest sites. Repair holes in walls, caulk cracks in soffits and eaves, and screen vents and louvers. Nests made early in the season by founding queens are easier to eliminate before workers are produced.

Prevention of new nests is the key.

The colonies are annual.

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Paper Wasps

Paper Wasp Bee

Paper Wasps

...Have a segmented body, a slower flight pattern and dangling legs. They are about 3/4" long and have a slim body.

Without a doubt the most painful "bee" sting doesn't even come from a bee at all. Wasp stings are far worse than bees. Bees are reluctant to sting because they can only sting once. Wasps sting repeatedly.

Paper Wasps prefer nesting in attics but will nest practically anywhere; in eave peaks, behind shutters, under deck railings, in gas grills, swing sets, mailboxes, and light fixtures. Their nests aren't very large and can be tucked into any little nook or cranny.

The colonies are annual.

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Hornets

Bald Faced Hornet

Bald Faced Hornets

...Are certainly the physically strongest stinging insect that I encounter. It is the only one able to sting directly through my protective clothing or shoot venom into my eyes if it hits hard enough against the protective netting covering my face.

Hornets nests are entirely exterior; trees, shrubs, under decks, and high in the eaves. They construct a "football" or upside down teardrop-shaped nest from gray paper. Hornets, as do wasps and yellow jackets, actually make this paper themselves by chewing on tiny slivers of wood. The young are hatched and food is stored in the nest's center or "core" of hexagonal (or six-sided) cells. Hornet nests may contain thousands of insects which are extremely aggressive when disturbed.  The nests are often located out of reach and removal is best accomplished by a professional pest control firm. Unlike Bees, they can sting repeatedly.

 The colonies are annual.

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Yellow Jackets

Yellow Jacket Bee

German Yellow Jackets are often mistaken for bees. They belong to a group of social wasps that cooperate to build and defend their queen and colony. They are also the univited guests at picnics who get into soda cans.

Aerial Yellow Jackets nest in trees, shrubs, under decks, or high in the eaves, their nest is very visible and easy to identify; a "football" or upside down teardrop-shaped nest constructed from gray paper with a single hole on the bottom.

Yellow Jackets actually make this paper themselves by chewing on tiny slivers of wood. The young are hatched and food is stored in the nest's center or "core" of hexagonal (or six-sided) cells. See picture at the left.

When Yellow Jackets nest inside a structure (such as your home) the nest is not at all visible. You'll see them flying in and out at some small gap, crack, or crevice on the exterior of your house. Note: Please do not seal this entrance hole shut.

You may even be able to hear yellow jackets inside. Listen to your wall or ceiling for a crackling, tickling, "rustling-leaves" sound. Those are yellow jackets going about the business of building their hive and slowly chewing through your plaster or drywall to expand their nests.

Ever been mowing the grass and been chased off your mower? Those were Ground Bees (actually a type of yellow jacket) that chased you in the house. They build hives two inches to two feet underground often using abandoned rodent burrows. They are much smaller than other yellow jackets but will aggressively defend their home.

Unlike a honeybee, which stings only once, a yellow jacket can sting repeatedly.

The colonies are annual.

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Mud Dauber

Mud Dauber Bee

Mud Dauber

...wasps are not social wasps like Paper wasps. They are in a different family.

The adult insect puts a paralyzed spider or worm in each mud cells built to enclose eggs, larvae and pupae. The mud cells form long clay tubes or large lumps.

The wasps are slender; they are shiny black or brown, orange or yellow, with black markings. Many have long slender thread waists.

Like Carpenter bees there is no protective worker caste; these wasps are not aggressive; they will not sting unless pressed or handled, however, they do sting repeatedly. 

Mud Daubers place their mud nests in protected places like electric motors, sheds, attics, against house siding and under porch ceilings. The nests are long tubelike structures. They do like soffits and hidden places as well.

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Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee

Bumble Bees

...As social insects, live in colonies. Each spring a queen that has survived over wintering will find a suitable nesting site and establish her colony.

The bumble bee colony grows larger over the summer and is usually discovered while gardening or mowing the lawn. The bumble bees will attack to defend their nest, so they are considered a health concern. They are pollinators and should only be exterminated if in an undesirable location. Unfortunately, they often build their nests under concrete by patios and steps. In that case extermination is the only option. Bumble Bees are reluctant to sting, however, they will vigorously defend their nest.

Often confused with carpenter bees, bumble bees are characterized by the hairiness of the abdomen (carpenter bees have a smooth abdomen).

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Carpenter Bee

Carpenter Bee
Carpenter Bee Hole - Hive

Carpenter Bee

In the late-spring and early summer, homeowners often notice large, black bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are probably Carpenter Bees searching for mates and favorable sites to construct their nests. Male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. The males are quite harmless, however, since they lack stingers. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled or molested.

Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black; bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings. Carpenter Bees can be observed around and under eaves, decks, breezeways, etc. They drill holes in the exterior of the wood to lay eggs.

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Mining Bees

Mining Bees

Mining Bees

..Resemble the typical honeybee in shape and size. Bodies are colored dark with fine light brown or yellow hairs.  Andrenid bees have chewing-lapping mouthparts used to manipulate and collect flower products such as nectar and pollen. The protruding 'lapping' mouthpart is shorter in mining bees than honeybees giving them the common name of short-tongued bees.

Unlike honeybees, mining bees are solitary and do not form large, socially organized nests. As their name suggests, mining bees dig single nests in the soil. In spring, adult bees emerge, mate and begin nest preparation. Bees select exposed, well-drained soils to nest in such as banks, hills and road cut-outs. Although the bees are solitary nesters, they often construct nests in large numbers next to one another at a given nesting site. Each female mines out a cylindrical hole to raise offspring. The nest consists of a vertical tunnel and side cells along side the tunnel for hatching eggs. Foraging activity generally lessens during the summer months and the bees become less noticeable. Mature larvae pupate and transform in adults during the late summer. Adults spend the winter inside the burrow and will emerge the following spring to start the whole cycle over.

When bees nest together in large numbers, they can be quite ominous, especially during mating and foraging seasons. Mining bees can sting only once and they are not easily provoked unless you run over their nest with a lawnmower.

Asian Beetles

Asian Lady Beetles

Asian Beetle

Prevention is the key. A properly timed exterior insecticide treatment can eliminate any infestations. Once the insects are in the house all you can do is vacuum them up. There is no reason to spray for them inside the house because they do not reproduce once inside.

During late winter or early spring, barrier treatments are ineffective since the beetles gained entry the previous autumn. It is important to consider treatment before this happens.

To be effective, barrier treatments should be applied before the beetles enter buildings over winter. In Wisconsin, the proper timing for such treatments is typically early September thru the end of October although this will vary with seasonal conditions.

Cluster Fly

Cluster Fly

The Cluster Fly is a parasite of earthworms and breeds outdoors in lawns and fields during the spring and summer. You can find cluster flies almost everywhere in the United States and Canada, except for the Southern states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. When fall approaches, the cluster flies begin to enter structures in large numbers. Problems with cluster flies begin in late August as they move to winter quarters to over-winter. The cluster fly is seeking warm sites with protective cracks for shelter, crawling back as far as they can get. It is important to consider treatment before this happens.

To be effective, barrier treatments should be applied before the flies enter buildings over winter. In Wisconsin, the proper timing for such treatments is typically late-September thru the end of October although this will vary with seasonal conditions.

Box Elder Bugs

Box Elder Bugs

Box Elder Bug

They are bright red or black with narrow reddish lines on the back. Box Elder bugs feed principally by sucking juices from the Box Elder tree, but are sometimes found on other plants. When Box Elder bugs build up to large populations and invade a home they are usually pests only by their presence, although their piercing-sucking mouthparts can sometimes puncture skin, causing slight irritation. Box Elder bugs do very little damage to the trees they attack, but at certain times of the year they can become a nuisance. Adult Box Elder bugs will enter structures in the fall, seeking winter shelter. Once box elder bugs have become established in the home, there aren't a lot of treatment options. There are not a lot of recommended chemical measures at this point. The easiest way to remove box elder bugs, once they are indoors, is with a vacuum cleaner. It is important to consider treatment before this happens.

To be effective, barrier treatments should be applied before the bugs enter buildings over winter. In Wisconsin, the proper timing for such treatments is typically late-September thru the end of October although this will vary with seasonal conditions.

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Stink Bugs

Stink Bug Problem - Hartford, WI

The Stink Bugs Life Cycle

The United States is home to dozens of kinds of native stink bugs. They are not the problem. A new species arrived from Asia sometime in the late 1990s, experts believe. It’s called the brown marmorated stink bug, or BMSB and it is new to Wisconsin in the last couple of years.

Stink Bugs will enter structures in the fall, seeking winter shelter. Once the Stink Bugs have become established in the home, there aren't a lot of treatment options. There are not a lot of recommended chemical measures at this point. If stink bugs have already found an entryway use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate live and dead bugs. However, empty the vacuum cleaner or dispose of the bag immediately to prevent odor from permeating the area. Seal contents from the vacuum in a plastic bag and dispose of it with your normal garbage. Some have compared the odor to rotting almonds, rotting coconuts or rancid cinnamon.

It is important to consider treatment before this happens.

To be effective, barrier treatments should be applied before the bugs enter buildings over winter. In Wisconsin, the proper timing for such treatments is typically late-September thru the end of October although this will vary with seasonal conditions.

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Symptoms of a Bee Allergy - Wisconsin

Symptoms of a Bee or Wasp Allergy Sting reactions, which may increase with succeeding stings, include:

  • A choking sensation or difficulty in breathing.
  • A skin rash similar to hives (human hives, not bee hives).
  • A dry cough, sneezing or asthma.
  • Lips turning blue.
  • A rapid pulse and a drop in blood pressure.

If you start to feel funny DO NOT TAKE TREAT IT LIGHTLY. Let someone know you have been stung. Don't go in your house and sit by yourself. Thousands of people die of bee stings each year.

There is no such thing as an immunity when it comes to bee or wasp venom. The more you have been stung the more likely it is that you will react severely and be in a life threatening situation. Ground nests present the most danger because of the number of stings that occur.

More severe reactions may include cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, shock or loss of consciousness. Symptoms usually appear within a few minutes after a sting, but could be delayed up to 24 hours. Stings near the eyes, nose and throat are the most dangerous. For severe reactions, medical assistance should be sought immediately.

When stung by a bee, the stinger should be removed as quickly as possible, but removing it improperly will make the sting worse. The proper way is to scrape the stinger out with a clean fingernail or knife. Pulling or squeezing the stinger will only pump more venom into the wound, as the bee parts containing the venom are left attached to the stinger after the bee tears itself free. If a wasp stings you there is no stinger. They can sting repeatedly. Bees can only sting once.

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