“Bee” Aware of Stinging Insects

Ah, it’s a bright, beautiful and sunny day, you’re relaxing on your deck with a drink in hand and then…BUZZ…a bee starts madly flying around you for what seems like no apparent reason.

There actually could be a reason, or even several. It could be the sugars in the drink in your hand, or possibly the sweet perfume you put on that morning.

Thankfully, stinging insects will usually only attack when they, or their nest has been threatened.

Below are a few common stinging insects in Wisconsin.

Yellow Jackets

Appearance: About 1/2 inch in length, with black with yellow markings. They are members of the wasp family.

Diet: Sugars, sweets, meats, occasionally other insects

Nests: They like to live where humans live. Nests can be underground, near garbage and in cool, dark spaces. They also build in trees, shrubs and holes in walls.

Yellow Jackets can sting several times and are the cause of many allergic reactions to people sensitive to their venom.


Appearance: ½ to 1 ¼ inches in length. They have black bodies with white markings on the head and abdomen.

Diet: Feed on nectar, honeydew, and other insects.

Nests: They build large, gray colored paper nests which can be found in trees and shrubs. The nests are usually teardrop-shaped and they can hold 100-700 hornets, yet only one queen.

Hornets can sting several times and are very aggressive, especially when their nest is threatened.

Paper Wasps

Appearance: Dark brown with yellow markings and up to about ½ inch long.

Diet: They are mostly scavengers and prefer proteins such as spiders and other small insects

Nests: Paper-like cones which can be found hanging from eaves, soffits, deck rails, door frames, porches and trees. A mature nest can have up to 30 adults.

Paper wasps attack if their nest is threatened. They can sting several times, sometimes bringing on an allergic reaction.

Bumble Bees

Appearance: Up to 1 inch in length. They are fuzzy appearing, and yellow and black in color.

Diet: Honey and nectar

Nests: Most are located in ground cavities, others in wood piles, walls, sheds, crawl spaces or even sometimes in the attic. Nests can have anywhere from 50 to 400 bees. Bumble Bees will grow aggressive if their nest is disturbed.

Some helpful tips:

  • Instead of swatting at a bee, try gently blowing it away from a distance.
  • If you are being attacked by bees, run! It’s best to try and find some kind of barrier to distance yourself from the bees, like a car, bees will stop attacking when in a vehicle; they will instead try to find a way out. Crack a window on the sunny side of the vehicle and they will exit.
  • Wear shoes when walking in a grassy area.
  • Remove crumbs and spills from an outdoor eating area immediately.
  • Often bees will take over a hummingbird feeder. If this happens, simply remove the feeder for about a week. This will throw off the bees flight pattern and make them look elsewhere.
  • If you notice a hive, it may be best to call a licensed professional to remove it safely!

At Safeway Pest Management, our technicians are licensed and trained to safely deal with stinging insects and their nests. If you’re hearing buzzing, or see a nest, call Safeway Pest Management at 262-679-4422 or 800-956-0800

You can also visit our website at www.safewaypest.net


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