WASP, BEES, & HORNETS
It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, Flowers are blooming. You’re watching your children laugh and giggle in the backyard. Then in a moment their fun turns into tears. You run over to find out what’s wrong and spot the familiar black and yellow insect. In an instant you know what ruined your kid’s fun day out: they’ve been stung.
Stinging insects, like wasp, bees, and hornets, are some of the most beneficial insects in nature until they feel threatened by a human. Bees are largely docile creatures who are an essential part in the pollination of plants. To a gardener, there is no more welcome insect than a busy little bumble bee collecting nectar for it’s hive. Wasps and hornets prey on virtually every form of pest insect, and can be highly effective allies in keeping pests out of your home. The problem is that when stinging insects feel like they or their nests are in danger, they become pests that can ruin your day. If you’re unfortunate enough to be allergic to their stings, they may even send you to the hospital.
The most important thing to look out for if you want to prevent stings is nests and hives in your area. Although some wasps are solitary, for the most parts stinging insects are social creatures who nest in large groups. Most stings, particularly dangerous stings, happen in defense of a nest. Hornets in particular will tag intruders with attack pheromones to rile up the rest of the nest against a threat. Check around your house regularly for hives and nests. If you see one, do not try and remove it yourself. If handled incorrectly, removing a nest could result in multiple stings.
It is possible to be stung without a nearby hive, so caution should be taken if you know you are about to spend time outside. Keep sugary drinks and food covered to prevent bees and wasps from mistaking it for the nectar they eat. Avoid wearing bright colors or floral patterns. Don’t walk around barefoot. If approached by a bee or a wasp, don’t flail at it. If you don’t harm a stinging insect away from its nest, it is less likely to harm you.
As long as you take precautions, a few bees, hornets, and wasps are a good thing to see around your yard. They’ll keep your flowers blooming. They’ll keep pests out of your home. But stinging insects aren’t something to take lightly. A bee might be a welcome visitor, but they are lousy neighbors.