Wasps

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wasp identification

Wasps are often confused with bees, but they can be distinguished by their smooth, slender bodies (compared to bees, which typically appear plump and fuzzy). They’re known for their painful stings and aggressive behavior when their nests are disturbed.

Many species of wasps are beneficial to the environment because they pollinate flowers and prey on other pests. However, they can also be a nuisance and even a danger to humans when their nests are too close to homes and buildings.

Wasps are typically encountered outdoors near trees, shrubs, and woodpiles. Occasionally, they may be drawn to your home for shelter (under eaves, in attics, or around porches).

From our experience, wasps are not as aggressive as most people think. It’s true that, unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times and some species are more territorial than others. But as long as you refrain from threatening or disturbing their nests, wasps will generally leave you alone.

If you find wasps in or around your home, the best course of action is to identify the location of their nest (if there is one) and call a pest control professional for wasp removal services. At MMPC, our specialists have the knowledge and equipment to safely remove wasp nests and prevent them from coming back.


Bald-faced hornets are not true hornets—they’re relatives of yellow jacket wasps. The “bald-faced” part of their name comes from the white markings on their heads.

They build gray, paper-like nests that are about the size of a basketball and in the shape of an upside-down teardrop. The nests usually hang from high places like trees, poles, eaves, or the sides of buildings.

Bald-faced hornets are aggressive when their nests are disturbed. They sting multiple times and can squirt venom at intruders’ eyes, causing temporary blindness.

Size: 1/2″ – 5/8″ long (12 – 14 mm); about the size of a sunflower seed

Color: Black and white

Shape: Stout body with a short waist, long antennae, 6 legs, and 2 pairs of wings

  • 6 black legs with white markings
  • Black antennae with cylindrical segments
  • Face and mandibles covered in distinct ivory-white markings
  • Smooth, stout body with a short waist and pointed lower abdomen
  • 2 pairs of translucent, smoky-colored wings
  • 3 white stripes on the last 3 abdominal segments
  • 2 slanted white stripes on the thorax
  • Females have a non-barbed stingers, while males lack a stinger

Paper wasps get their name from the papery texture of their nests, which are made from dead wood and plant fibers.

These nests, which are usually found hanging in well-sheltered areas like tree branches and roof eaves, are gray or brown in color and have a unique shape resembling an inverted umbrella with open combs.

Paper wasps are less aggressive than other wasps and may “warn” intruders by flying into them without stinging. But they will certainly sting to defend their nests.

Size: 3/4″ – 7/8″ long (19 – 22 mm); about the size of a penny

Color: Black and yellow

Shape: Slender body with a narrow waist, long antennae, 6 legs, and 2 pairs of wings

  • 6 yellow legs, with extra long hind legs that dangle in the air when flying
  • Black antennae with distinct orange tips
  • Black mandibles
  • Smooth, slender body with a narrow waist and a pointed lower abdomen covered in yellow markings and stripes
  • 2 pairs of translucent wings with yellow-orange veins
  • Females have a non-barbed stingers, while males lack a stinger

Of all stinging pests found in the United States, yellow jackets are the most aggressive and are responsible for the majority of sting injuries. They are particularly dangerous in the fall, which is when their colonies are the largest and their aggressive behavior reaches a peak.

Eastern yellow jackets are a “ground-nesting” species of yellow jackets, meaning they prefer to build their nests underground. However their nests can occasionally be found in sheltered, above-ground sites like attics and wall voids.

Size: 1/2″ – 5/8″ long (13 – 16 mm); about the size of a sunflower seed

Color: Black and yellow

Shape: Compact body with a short waist, long antennae, 6 legs, and 2 pairs of wings

  • 6 yellow legs
  • Black antennae with cylindrical segments
  • Yellow mandibles
  • Smooth, compact body with a short waist and a pointed lower abdomen covered in yellow markings and stripes
  • 2 pairs of translucent wings with dark brown veins
  • Females have a non-barbed stingers, while males lack a stinger

Bethylid wasps are parasitoids that attack and lay their eggs in beetle larvae.

When they are found in a home or building, it’s usually due to an existing infestation of carpet beetles or pantry beetles.

Female bethylid wasps are wingless and may occasionally sting humans in defense (e.g. when picked up or trapped under clothing). Their stings are rather painful and may cause redness, irritation, swelling, and small welts.

Size: 1/12″ – 1/5″ long (2 – 5 mm); about the size of a sesame seed

Color: Usually dark-brown or black

Shape: Long, flat, ant-like body with thin antennae and 6 legs; males have wings while females are wingless

  • 6 legs
  • Long, thin antennae
  • Flat, ant-like body with a narrow, elongated thorax and a long, tapered abdomen
  • Females are wingless, while males have 2 pairs of transparent wings
  • Females have a non-barbed stingers, while males lack a stinger