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Take the Sting Out of Summer

Nothing ruins a beautiful summer day like being stung. By knowing what to look for and how to handle a nest of paper wasps, hornets or yellow jackets, you can keep your family and guests sting-free.

Paper wasps, hornets and yellow jackets, oh my!

It can be difficult to distinguish between paper wasps, hornets and yellow jackets without getting a close look, as they all may have yellow and black markings. All three of these insects are common in Maryland, but they do have distinct behavior patterns and nests to help you identify them.

Paper wasps can be a variety of colors ranging from brown to bright yellow and black. Fortunately, paper wasps are not aggressive unless their nest is threatened and are actually considered a friend by many gardeners because they eat larvae and other bugs that can destroy fruit and vegetable plants. While they can sting many times without dying due to their smooth stingers, it is not necessary to get rid of paper wasps unless the nest is located in an inconvenient spot like a doorway.

Like paper wasps, hornets are usually not aggressive unless their nest is threatened. They are brown with yellow stripes on the abdomen, making them difficult to differentiate from other stinging insects. Unlike paper wasps and yellow jackets, hornets are most active at night and are attracted to bright lights. If you listen carefully, you might hear a hornet bumping against your window at night when your lights are on.


Yellow jackets, on the other hand, can be very aggressive. This is particularly dangerous for people with known allergies to insect stings. Although yellow jackets have barbed stingers, they can sting multiple times before dying. When threatened, yellow jackets release a pheromone alerting each other to attack. It is very important to stay calm if you come across a yellow jacket and walk away quietly. Their nests can be found in the ground, often in old rodent holes, in wall voids, on shrubs, bushes, houses, sheds or even old cars. They eat sugary foods, decaying protein and other insects, which is why they are often uninvited guests to picnics and barbecues and tend to hang around garbage cans.

Brody Brothers can quickly identify what type of insect nest is on your property and recommend an efficient removal option. Many paper wasp and hornet nests can be ignored, since they are generally not hazardous, but removal may be necessary if the nests are located in a place that gets a lot of traffic or if someone in your household is allergic to their stings.

Because of their aggressive nature, yellow jackets can be very dangerous and homeowners should consider removing any nests close to their homes. All of these types of insects are difficult to eliminate without professional help. To avoid being stung and take the guesswork out of identifying these stinging pests, call the Brody Brothers team.