In our Southern Maine service area, we have many stinging insects that can become a problem in our yards and sometimes inside our homes. The key to prevention is understanding what attracts these insects. This depends on what stinging insect you're dealing with.
Cicada Killer Wasps
These are very large wasps that can be scary when they appear in your yard. But they look much scarier than they actually are. Cicada killers are solitary wasps. They don't swarm and they don't have a nest-protection instinct. They're so docile, they can sometimes be handled without attempting to sting—though we would definitely not recommend handling one. They have an impressive stinger that can inflict a painful wound.
What attracts cicada killer wasps? Cicada insects are definitely an attractant for cicada killer wasps but they are not the main reason these wasps will take up residence in your yard. So what attracts them? These wasps burrow into the ground to establish their homes and they have a preference for sandy ground. For this reason, they are often called sand hornets. If you have a sandbox or sandy areas in your yard, it will be more attractive to these wasps. Be sure to cover sandboxes to keep these wasps out. You can also prevent them by making sure to maintain a healthy lawn that is free of bare spots.
These insects, which are actually wasps, not hornets, are another large wasp you may find in your yard. But, unlike those cicada killers, baldfaced hornets (also called white faced hornets) are very aggressive, especially when protecting their nests. Keep an eye out for nests in your yard. They will usually be three or more feet off the ground. You may find them in trees and shrubs or on utility poles, sheds, outbuildings, and under the overhangs of homes.
What attract baldfaced hornets? They love sweets and meats. A yard filled with flowers will be just as enticing as a yard filled with live and dead insects to eat. Everything you do to reduce insects and other bugs in your yard, the less chance you'll have a baldfaced hornet nest appear.
Yellow Jackets and Paper Wasps
These two pests are similar in many ways. Some species of paper wasp even have the famous black and yellow coloration of a yellow jacket. These are social wasps that protect their nests, gather together in a swarm, and sting multiple times without losing their stingers. In your yard, they create gray, papery nests. Paper wasps will establish aerial nests. Yellow jackets create both aerial and ground nests.
What attracts yellow jackets and paper wasps? These wasps will be drawn in by open trash and food left around your BBQ grill. Make sure to keep exterior trash in sealed containers and be sure to clean up when you're done grilling. It is also a good idea to keep drinks covered because both of these wasps will drink sugary liquids.
These are solitary wasps that create nests out of mud. Mud dauber nests are usually established in sheltered locations such as eaves, open garages, porch ceilings, shed overhangs, and under decks, to name just a few. If you have mud dauber nests in a location of your yard that doesn't have much activity, it may be okay to keep these wasps around. They help control plant-damaging pests and spiders and help with pollination. Just be careful. Some more aggressive wasps can take up residence in old mud dauber nests.
What attracts mud daubers? Spiders are a big attractant. Everything you do to control spiders in your yard will help reduce mud dauber populations. Since many spiders are attracted to flies, keeping exterior lights off at night or replacing exterior bulbs with yellow insect-resistant bulbs can help.
Residential Pest Control
Detecting and controlling stinging insect nests is the core of prevention. When this is coupled with routine and appropriate treatments to control bug populations, it is a one-two punch that makes your yard a much safer place to be.
Have you been on the fence about investing in a year-round residential pest control program to protect your health and property from harmful insects, bugs, and rodents? Make this the year! Professional pest control doesn't just make life nicer, it is essential protection every home should have. Get yours in place today.