mid-Missouri Pest Information: Stinging Insects

Stinging Insect Identification

Correct identification of these pests will help in their extermination. Almost half a million people each year are sent to the emergency room with allergies to stinging and biting pests. Most stinging insects are more active in the summer and fall, when they are out looking for food sources to get them through the winter ahead.

Bald-Faced Hornet

Photo of a Bald Faced Hornet

The Bald-Faced Hornet is actually a wasp and can be easily identified by its black and white markings (most stinging insects are black and yellow). The hornets construct an easily identifiable pear-shaped paper nest that can become quite large. While more docile than other yellowjackets, the hornet is extremely protective of its nest and will sting repeatedly if disturbed.

Bumble Bee

Photo of a Bumble Bee

These large, black and yellow, furry insects can often be seen bouncing around the yard collecting pollen and nectar. They are not aggressive and will only sting in self-defense. Their stingers are not barbed like a honeybee, therefore giving them the capability to sting would-be predators repeatedly.

Cicada Killer

Photo of a Cicada Killer

These wasps can be formidable because of their large size, but rarely sting unless bothered. They nest in the ground and their burrows can be found in many lawns. The adults feed on nectar while the larvae feed on cicadas that the adults bring back to the nest.

Honey Bee

Photo of a Honey Bee

The common domesticated honey bee, unlike the feared “killer bee”, are a non-aggressive bee commonly found around mid-Missouri. These black and yellow bees will only sting when threatened, and lose their barbed stingers and die when they do sting. They are a beneficial in the pollination of flowers and the production of honey, and are one the few insects that are able to remain active during the winter. While most adult insects die during the winter, honey bees can metabolize their honey to prevent freezing to death!

Paper Wasp

Photo of a Paper Wasp

The Paper Wasp is a slender, narrow-bodied insect with long legs. They are reddish-orange to dark-brown or black in color and have yellow markings on their abdomen. Their paper nest is umbrella-shaped and has hexagonal cells that are left open and visible. Paper Wasp nests can often be found along eaves, window frames, porch ceilings, rafters, etc.

Red Paper Wasp

Photo of a Red Paper Wasp

This species displays the same nesting characteristics as the Paper Wasp. The only difference between the two is the color (Red wasps are red!).

Red Velvet Ant

Photo of a Red Velvet Ant

The Velvet Ant or “cow killer” is actually not an ant at all, but a wasp. These black insects have red-orange hair on their thorax and abdomen. Females are wingless and pack a painful sting while the males are winged but are unable to sting.

Yellow Jacket

Photo of a Yellow Jacket

These nuisance pests are black and yellow in color. They build a paper nest that can get as large as a basketball, usually beneath the ground. They can also nest in protected areas such as trees and shrubs, sheds, porches, attics, wall voids, etc. The yellow jacket can be extremely aggressive and can sting repeatedly without provocation. They can commonly be found scavenging for human food at picnics, cookouts, and around garbage cans or dumpsters.

Mud Dauber

Photo of Mud Dauber

These long, slender wasps are usually black with yellow markings, but some species may also have a metallic blue or black coloring. They can be easily identified by their thin, thread-like waist. Mud dauber nests are constructed out of mud and can be found under eaves, porch ceilings, inside garages, sheds, barns, etc. Mud daubers are solitary wasps and do not defend their nest, therefore stings are rare.

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