Playing it safe with stinging insects

Jul 8, 2021, 15:58 PM by Fred Speer

In California, there are two distinct types of social wasps: yellowjackets and paper wasps. Yellowjackets are by far the most troublesome group, especially ground- and cavity-nesting ones such as the western yellowjacket, which tend to defend their nests vigorously when disturbed.

While some stinging insects are beneficial to our environment, others – including carpenter bees, wasps, and hornets – can pose a threat to people and structures. According to the National Pest Management Association, allergic reactions to stinging insect envenomations send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room annually.

Clark, your friendly termite, grounds care, and pest management expert, would like to share some important information on stinging insects and how to protect yourself and your family.

Yellowjackets and wasps

Foraging yellowjackets are primarily scavengers. They start to show up at picnics and barbecues, around garbage cans, at dishes of dog or cat food placed outside, and where ripe or overripe fruit is accessible. At certain times and places, the number of scavenger wasps can be quite large. Researchers at the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources division say their defensive behavior gets more aggressive as populations become larger at the same time food gets scarcer.

Yellowjackets can nest in a variety of locations in and around structures, including trees, bushes, attics, crawlspaces, gutters, sheds, building overhangs, decks, and in the ground. They deserve your respect.

Paper wasps are much less defensive, and they rarely sting humans. They tend to shy away from human activity except when their nests are located near doors, windows, or other high-traffic areas. Their nests are relatively small and are never covered with a paper envelope (that is, when you look at the nest, you can see the wasps and the comb; yellowjacket nests are covered with a paper envelope). Paper wasp nests only reach a colony size of about 100 wasps.

If you come across a nest, proceed with caution, because stinging insects can be very aggressive. Removal of any stinging insect nest is not a do-it-yourself job, and should only be performed by a licensed pest management professional.


Staying safe with stinging insects

Clark recommends the following tips to help you protect you and your family from stinging insects:

  • -Keep food covered: During a picnic or cookout, cover all food when outside, and be sure to keep tight-fitting lids on trash bins.

  • -Avoid excessive use of fragrances: Avoid excessive use of perfume or cologne, as yellowjackets and other stinging insects are attracted to sweet-smelling fragrances. When possible, choose unscented shampoos, soaps, lotions, and sunscreen.

  • -Adjust your wardrobe: Avoid wearing dark colors and floral prints, because these patterns can attract stinging insects. Wear closed-toe shoes, especially in grassy areas where hornets and other pests often nest.

  • -Empty the trash: Regularly empty garbage cans, and wash recycling bins of sugary residue from soda and beer cans, which yellowjackets favor.

  • -Remain calm, cool, and collected: Do not swat a nearby pest or flail in panic – these movements may provoke an attack. Instead, remain calm and slowly walk away from the area. The insect should fly away without causing any harm.


Clark Pest Control is committed to safeguarding your home from pests during these challenging times. Our service technicians use such personal protective equipment as gloves, masks, and respirators, they practice social distancing, they call ahead to notify you before a service, and they adhere strictly to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when servicing inside or outside your home.

If you’re have problems with stinging insects in and around your home, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email us at We are ready to help solve your pest issues.

Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home.

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