You checked the weather forecast, made a jar of sun tea, and grabbed your breakfast scone. As you’re settling down on your porch with your tasty treats (and perhaps that book you’ve been wanting to read too), you spot it: a wasp, hovering in front of a small paper nest that it’s building. Encouraged by warm summer temperatures, many species are famous for ruining people’s outdoor plans. They’re the wasps most likely to cause you problems in Virginia.

The Aggressive Yellow Jacket

Wasps and stings may go hand-in-hand, but yellow jackets take things to a whole other level. Known for their aggressive nature that frequently involves chasing unprepared victims, yellow jackets are one of the biggest insect “bullies” out there. This wasp species is named for its yellow and black color design, measuring from 3/8 to 5/8 inches long. The insects are attracted to food odors, so they’re likely to join you for your sun tea and breakfast scone.

While yellow jackets are a little slower to sting than other wasp species, the insects aggressively look after their colonies. Like other wasps, yellow jackets are able to sting repeatedly, making them a risk to anyone who may be allergic to them. An infestation is unlikely to result in structural damage to your home or business, but since they are stinging insects, it’s still not a good thing to have a nest near you. When yellow jackets appear, it’s always best to contact a wasp control company.

The Powerful Hornet

Larger than a wasp and possessing the ability to deliver a more painful and powerful sting, hornets are a concerning foreign species. That’s right – they’re not a North American native. This type of wasp was a stowaway when the Europeans began exploring our continent, eventually spreading all throughout it. Today, hornets are usually found along the East Coast, and they’re largely common in Virginia – the original settling point for many explorers.

Two hornet species infest North America, both of which are found throughout our state:

  • European hornets: 1 to 1 1/2 inches long with six legs and two pairs of wings.
  • Bald faced hornets: 1/2 to 5/8 inches long with a black body and mostly white face.

Like ants, hornets are social creatures. The pests will go after anyone or anything that enters their space. Hornets have smooth stingers that allow them to attack over and over again. If you suspect that the insects have infested your home or property, take steps to remove them before their stinging threat becomes a reality. As with other stinging insects, hornet removal is best left to the wasp control professionals.


The Defensive Paper Wasp

You’ll know a paper wasp by its narrow body and dark brown color. This species has black wings with yellow markings, making them look a bit like their close relatives in the yellow jacket. Paper wasps likes living in sheltered places, which means they may look for nesting spots in or around your home where they’re not easy to detect. While the insects are mainly beneficial to the planet because they aid in pollination (similar to bees), they’re still bad news for their aggressive stinging habits.

Paper wasps make paper nests, hence their name. The nests look like round, upside-down combs. Every year, a paper wasp colony starts as a single queen. Once she locates a good nesting spot, she’ll build a small comb nest in which to raise her first larvae. After the larvae mature, they begin to search for food, increase the size of the nest, and take care of the queen’s new young. Before you know it, the small nest on your property may grow into an out-of-control problem.

Paper wasps are known to be predators, feeding on common pests like spiders and caterpillars. But while this is another benefit of their presence, they equal it out with highly protective tendencies. If they feel threatened, they won’t hesitate to defend themselves vigorously, so steer clear of paper nests. A sting is extremely painful, and the reaction is much more severe if you’re allergic.

The Destructive Cicada Killer

Red and black with yellow stripes on their bellies, the cicada killer wasp species measures from 1/2 to 2 inches long. Thus, they’re one of the largest – if not, the largest – stinging pests in our state. Virginia’s climate is very warm during the summer, and it attracts cicada killers throughout the season to nest along the exterior of homes or businesses. Yet, identification is often difficult, as the pests often get confused with yellow jackets due to their similar appearance.

Like paper wasps, this species also offers a natural pest remedy: They kill the obnoxious cicadas you hear chirping throughout the warm months. Of course, with their name, this seems quite obvious. But cicada killers harm more than cicadas, as they also damage property. If they’re around, don’t be surprised to see dirt mounds and small holes throughout your lawn. The wasps also undermine exterior structures like patios and decks. Unlike other stinging insects, this species is one of the least aggressive, only stinging when provoked.


When Wasps Attack, Get Stinging Insect Control

From yellow jackets and hornets to paper wasps and cicada killers, there are a variety of wasp species you’re likely to deal with in Virginia. The aggressive insects are infamous for their stings, which result in pain and allergic reactions. To make matters worse, they often have an inclination to attack collectively – and some even destroy property. This is all the more reason to get pest control treatments from experts who know how to effectively fight back.

At Ehrlich Pest Control, formerly Connor’s Pest Control, we use humane techniques to combat many different wasp species. Our experts will remove existing pests and prevent them from coming back through strategic exclusion techniques. If you’ve spotted signs of a wasp infestation, contact the professionals to keep you, your family, or your customers safe.

Unwanted Encounters: Wasps in Virginia You’re Likely to Spot in Virginia

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