One of the best ways to protect your family from wasps is by being able to identify them.
According to the National Pest Management Association, stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room annually. Below you will find information about common wasps found in the State of Oklahoma to help determine which you are dealing with around your home.
Perhaps the most easily identified species of wasp; yellow jackets are characterized by their yellow and black color pattern. Yellowjackets are often slow to sting an individual unless they feel their nest is being threatened. Like other wasp species, any nest that is near a living area or door should be removed to ensure the safety of those around the area so that no unintentional contact occurs.
Yellowjacket nests are constructed from a paper carton material that can grow incredibly large if left alone. In some cases, yellowjacket nests can reach the size of a basketball or bowling ball. Unlike other exposed nests, yellowjackets prefer to create layers to envelop the previously constructed ones. Yellowjacket nests are often found near the ground on areas like sheds or the foundation of a home. Although, they may nest inside of walls is access is available.
Often characterized by their unique nest-building habits, paper wasps are a common species found around Oklahoma homes. Typically taking on a dominant brownish color with yellow or red markings, paper wasps are an incredibly aggressive species if they or their nest are disturbed. If these wasps are found near a structure, control is typically warranted and should always be done by a professional to avoid stinging.
Paper wasp nests are composed of a paper-like material and take on an umbrella-like shape that remains unenclosed. Many times, paper wasp nests are constructed on porch ceilings, railings, eaves or doorframes for added protection from the elements. However, they may also be found hanging from shrubs or tree branches. If these nests are disturbed, there is a good chance that the person who disturbed the nest will be stung.
As a relative of the yellowjacket, the bald-faced hornet received its name from the mostly black color of its body and white-patterned face. Unlike other wasps that may only sting when they feel threatened, bald-faced hornets will attack anyone that encroaches on their space. For this reason, the removal of bald-faced hornets should be left to a professional for both the safety of the individual and the difficulty associated with removal.
Like the previous wasps, bald-faced hornets build their nests out of a paper-like material. Often, the interiors of these nests contain hexagonal combs that are encased in a mottled gray paper envelope. Because this species prefers an aerial nest, they will often be found near overhangs, utility poles, sheds or other large structures. Nests can range in size; however, a large colony’s nest could reach up to 14” in diameter. If a nest is located, avoid it to limit the chances of being stung.
As a solitary wasp species, mud daubers do not live in colonies. Mud daubers are generally long and slender and have a black color with pale markings or a metallic luster. Although considered beneficial insects because of the role they play in keeping spider populations down, a professional should remove nests located near high-activity areas. Any nests in secluded areas may have control spider populations.
Female mud daubers will often construct their nests from mud by creating short 1” long tubes under eaves and outdoor ceilings or in protected areas like attics or along walls that have coverage from the elements. While the female builds the nest, the male will often guard it against flies or other wasps that will attempt to lay their own eggs within the nest. Once the nest is completed, eggs are deposited and the nest has been sealed, the male will then leave the nest location.
Mahogany wasps often have a red-brown coloring and can only be found in a limited geographic area that includes Oklahoma and Texas. Many gardeners love mahogany wasps because they will chew caterpillar larvae and feed it to their young to help improve the welfare of plants. However, adult wasps will prefer to gain nutrition from aphids or plant nectar from flowers. Although not naturally aggressive, mahogany wasps will sting when they feel threatened.
Because they are a type of paper wasp, will compose their nests of paper-like materials created from nectar, wasp saliva and wood. Nests will typically be located hanging from branches or trees in the wild but can also be located on windows and door frames in more urban areas as well as underneath deck flooring. Finding and eliminating nests early can ensure that no accidental contact with these wasps occurs that could lead to a sting; however, mahogany wasp stings rarely require medical attention.
As you might imagine, red wasps derive their name from the dominant red color they possess. And, although their sting may be painful, it rarely causes lasting effects for most people unless an allergy exists. Red wasps are not as aggressive as yellowjackets and will only sting when they are provoked into doing it or their nest has been disturbed. In this species, male adults are unable to sting and females will often protect the nest from damage or intruders.
Red wasps create paper-like structures from chewed plant materials, saliva and wood much like the mahogany wasp. Nests will be attached to a structure with a small stem that connects to many other nest cells as it begins to expand. Because they are so similar to mahogany wasps, they too will often create nests inside eaves, under decks, around sheds or outbuildings and near windows or doorframes. Once the season ends, the nest will not be reused by red wasps.
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