Pest Library Wasp

Stinging Insects

Protect Your Home and Business From Stinging Insects.

Stinging Insects Found In Washington State


What Do Wasps Look Like?

Wasps are flying, stinging insects. Though closely related to bees and ants, they have a number of unique and differentiating characteristics. 

They are generally between 1 and 2 inches in length with narrow, translucent wings. Most species have long thin bodies. They can be yellow, brown, reddish-orange, or black in color. Female wasps have a stinger. Unlike bees that have barbed stingers—ensuring they die after stinging once—wasps have smooth stingers that allow them to sting repeatedly. 

Where Can I Find Wasps?

Wasps make their homes in a variety of different habitats. Like bees, butterflies, and moths, they feed on nectar. Some parasitic wasps also require a host species to be native to the area in order to reproduce. These parasitic wasps have a variety of pest control uses. Sometimes wasps are introduced to an area by farmers to keep the pest population under control since wasps kill other insects while doing relatively little damage to crops.       

How Do Wasps Behave?

There are two distinct types of wasp species: solitary and social. Solitary wasps live and hunt alone from the time they reach adulthood, while social wasps build nests and live in colonies that may have up to several thousand members. Most colonies have a single queen and a handful of male wasps to mate with her, while the vast majority of the wasps in the nest are sterile female workers responsible for gathering food and defending the nest. 

Social wasps reproduce inside the nest via mating between the queen and fertile males. The reproductive cycle of solitary wasps is more interesting and varied. After the mating between a solitary male and female wasp, the female will lay her eggs in small chambers. These chambers may be located underground in specially constructed mud cells, or they may be attached to a solid surface such as a tree trunk or wall. The wasp then seals the cells, and there is no interaction between the adult and larval wasps. 

Some species of wasps, known as parasitic wasps, lay their eggs on or inside other living insect species. The insects act as hosts for the eggs, remaining alive until the point that the eggs hatch. These parasitic species are highly prized for their pest control abilities.

Wasps are typically not aggressive, but if they feel threatened or that their colony is in danger, they will attack humans. They can sting multiple times without dying, though only female wasps have stingers.


The most common type of social wasps is yellowjackets. Yellowjackets, which are yellow and white, are often confused with bees, which, in contrast, are hairy and have distinct, flat legs to help carry pollen. This species of wasp feeds on sap, nectar, and fruits but will collect insects and other sources of protein to feed their larvae.

Bald-Faced Hornets

Bald Faced HornetBald-faced hornets, sometimes called blackjackets or bull wasps, are closely related to yellowjackets. Their primary differentiator is their coloring: Bald-faced hornets are primarily black with white faces and three white stripes circling the ends of their bodies. This species is unique in their defense mechanisms; they can spray venom from their stingers, which can cause the intruder temporary blindness if the venom comes into contact with eyes.

Honey BeeBees

There are nearly 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees are essential to our worldwide ecosystems, thanks to the plants they pollinate. Pollen is used as a source of food for bees and is also dropped in transport, resulting in cross-pollination. Bees use their senses of smell and sight (although they are unable to see the color red) to find flowers to collect pollen. 

Bee venom is stored in a sac attached to the stinger called the ovipositor. Because the ovipositor is part of the female reproductive system, only female bees sting. The queen bee also uses her ovipositor to lay eggs. Worker bees are sterile females and do not lay eggs, using their ovipositors only to sting. Some species will die after they sting because their stingers are attached to their abdomen and have hooks on them. When the bee attempts to fly away after stinging, part of the abdomen is ripped away.

Bees are flying insects and often confused with wasps, although bees are generally much hairier than wasps and carry a basket for collecting pollen on their hind legs. They can be as small as 1/10 of an inch long or as large as 1-1/2 inches long. Bees are divided into several different categories based on the way they colonize.

Reach Out to Mathis Exterminating About Bee and Wasp Control

When it comes to dealing with bees, give us a call. We’ll be happy to refer you to a local beekeeper, who can provide more information about bee relocation. If wasps are plaguing your Puget Sound home or business, contact us for a free pest removal estimate.

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