Bees, Wasps, & Hornets

Stinging insects can be very dangerous to both adults and children. See below to learn more about the different types common in our area.

Yellow Jackets

Identification: Workers are a ¾ inch long and queens are about 1 inch long. They have yellow bodies with black markings. Between the thorax and abdomen, they have a narrow waist. They have a stinger which they don’t lose after they sting, allowing them to sting multiple times.

Behavior and Diet: Adult Yellow Jackets feed on nectar, sap, honey and fruit.  They are beneficial insects as they kill many plant eating insects.  Yellow jackets build papery nests from chewing wood fibers until it forms a papery pulp.  These nests can house 3,000 – 15,000 young.  Nests can also be built in rodent holes or voids in walls/ceilings of your home.  Yellow Jackets are considered very defensive stinging insects and their sting is very painful.  The sting is not life threatening, unless you are allergic to them.


HornetIdentification: 3/4” – 1 and 1/4” long.  The hornet is large, robust and short-waisted. Its head is reddish brown. Its thorax has yellow markings. The front half of the abdomen is black with yellow bands.  The rear half of the abdomen is yellow with dark crossbands and spots.

Behavior and Diet: Hornets live in gardens, parks and woodlands throughout the summer and fall.  The adults feed on insects and nectar.  They build paper nests in tree hollows, overhangs, under porches and in basements.  The larvae are fed chewed insects.  Hornets will rarely sting unless they feel threatened.  If you see a paper nest with a swarm of Hornets around it, it is best to stay away!


WaspIdentification: 3/8” – 1” long.  They have a yellow face, black thorax with yellow bands, and mostly yellow abdomen.

Behavior and Diet: Wasps emerge in late spring and roam around throughout the summer in search of nectar and insects to feed their larvae.  They build paper nests on tree limbs which can contain up to 200 workers.  Wasps are not especially aggressive unless they feel threatened.