With over 30,000 species currently identified throughout the world, wasps are considered to be a highly diverse type of insect. Naturally, those that we are most familiar with are the brightly-colored, seemingly angry species that travels in groups and poses an immediate threat with their extremely painful stings; however, most wasps are considered to be quite solitary and do not pose any threat of a vicious sting.
In fact, their purpose is to control insect populations and to contribute in a positive manner to the economy. Still, it does a person well to be able to successfully identify these insects. Continue reading to learn how to properly identify wasps and to learn many interesting facts about this group of insects.
While many individuals feel as if they could successfully identify wasps, it has been determined that those without a professional eye may have a bit of difficulty with this task. In order to determine the best course of action to take – in terms of treatment – it is essential that you are able to partake in wasp identification successfully. These insects belong to the order referred to as “Hymenoptera”. The suborder is referred to as “Apocrita”.
In the United States, there are in excess of 4,000 different species. These insects are predatory and they feed on other types of insects.
Despite the vast amount of wasp species throughout the world, the United States is typically only plagued by 3 distinct types – hornets, paper wasps, and yellow jackets.
Continue reading to learn the identifying characteristics of each of these wasp species.
Hornet vs Wasp vs Yellow Jacket
The first step to successful wasp identification is to know and understand that there are thousands of different species of wasps throughout the world. Unless it is your specialty, it is nearly impossible to identify all of these species; however, there is no need to worry. You live in the United States. To date, you only need to successfully identify 3 types. Below, you will find information on each of these:
- Hornets – When it comes to social wasps, hornets seem to be among the most commonly experienced within the United States. There are various types of hornets. The two most common include the European hornet and the bald-face variety. European hornets are typically brown in color and have orange-colored markings on their body. The bald-faced hornet is identified by the white markings that are commonly located on the thorax and the head region.
- Paper Wasps – These types of wasps are usually brown colored and have yellow or red markings on their bodies. These wasps are commonly identified by the length of their legs – which is very long. Additionally, the body of a paper wasp may be as long as 20mm.
- Yellow Jackets – These types of wasps have relatively short legs and may grow up to 16 mm. The body is characterized by both yellow and black markings, with the antennae being black. In the United States, these are both the lightest colored wasp and the most distinctive of all wasps.
When identifying wasps, you will find that the waistline of the insect is typically always very thin compared to similar flying insects. The abdomen area will become very narrow immediately before the connection to the thorax of the body. In some instances, you may discover a very thin layer of visible hair on the body of wasps.
In addition to physical characteristics, wasps are often identified by the fact that there are extremely territorial and temperamental.
These insects will defend their nests from afar and if they decide to attack, the swarm is typically very large and the attack is often quite serious due to the sheer number of wasps involved in the attack.
What to Do If You Get Stung by a Wasp
Wasps are often confused with bees; however, there are many distinct differences and the main one is that when a wasp stings, it does not lose its stinger.
The insect is capable of stinging over and over again, whereas a bee does lose its stinger and is capable of only stinging once. Additionally, wasps typically swarm, which results in a vast number of stings all at once.
These insects produce a venom. The more you are exposed through stings, the more of a chance that you have from suffering from a potentially serious allergic reaction.
If you get stung by a wasp and are not allergic, you may benefit from first aid measures at home. If you know that you are allergic, in should seek medical attention immediately. Until medical help arrives, perform the following steps:
- First, take an antihistamine. Prime examples include Benadryl and Claritin. This type of medication will help reduce the effects of the allergic reaction, such as swelling, itching, and discomfort.
- Next, make an effort to remove any present stingers. You may use tweezers to pull the stinger or scrape out with an appropriate device.
- If the stings are very painful, you may take pain relief medication – such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- You should then wash the area where you were stung with warm water and soap. Be certain to wash thoroughly.
- After washing the area, you should then place some hydrocortisone cream on the area. This, too, will help alleviate pain, swelling, redness, and any itching that you are experiencing as a result of the wasp sting.
- In order to get additional relief from the pain and uncomfortable symptoms associated with the wasp sting, you may apply ice directly to the area that has been impacted. Be sure to wrap the ice in a towel or similar item to keep the skin from becoming too cold. You may leave the ice on the area for up to 20 minutes at a time every hour until you experience relief.
- If you need a tetanus booster (it has been over 10 years), you should schedule to have one as quickly as possible.
- If you have had a previous allergic reaction, it is quite likely that you have been prescribed epinephrine, be certain to keep at least two pens on you regularly. If you experience a wasp sting, inject this substance as directed by your doctor.
- Once your reaction has been addressed by a medical professional, you should continue wound care at home. In most instances, this includes regularly cleaning the impacted area and applying an antibiotic ointment or cream.
- Stick to any type of regimen that you have been provided with by your doctor. This may include utilizing over-the-counter medications for pain, rash, and inflammation. Additionally, you may be prescribed an additional antihistamine as well as a steroid medication.
Serious and life-threatening reactions to a wasp sting may include admission to the hospital for observation and care. If you experience more serious reactions – such as breathing problems due to inflammation – you may be admitted to the ICU department of your hospital and be provided with a breathing tube – on top of the other treatments that will be necessary to stabilize you. Your treatment will be based on the severity of your reaction, how many stings that you received, and where those stings occurred on the body.
Wasp Sting Allergic Reaction Symptoms
Many people do not realize that they are allergic to a wasp sting until the sting occurs. The following outlines the signs that an allergic reaction has occurred. While it is true that not all individuals will experience a severe reaction, it is imperative to know and recognize the symptoms that may indicate that a medical emergency is occurring. To be clear, if ANY of the following symptoms occur, you should seek medical attention immediately:
- The face, lips, and/or throat may start to swell.
- Lightheadedness may occur.
- Nausea and/or vomiting may start to occur.
- Gastrointestinal issues may develop – such as cramping in the stomach and diarrhea.
- The pulse may feel as if it is racing.
- Dizziness may start to occur.
- Hives may develop and these may be accompanied by itching – especially in areas of the body that has not been affected directly by the stings.
- Breathing complications may start to happen. Examples include gasping for air or wheezing.
- The blood pressure may drop quickly.
- Loss of consciousness may happen in severe allergic reactions.
Wasp Nest Removal
If you notice a wasp nest on your property, it is important that you take the steps necessary to eliminate it as quickly as possible. This is critical because of the fact that wasps are known to sting more than once and in swarms. Additionally, the reaction to the stings may prove to be life threatening.
When faced with the task of removing a wasp nest, it is best to opt for a professional exterminator. These professionals know the steps to quickly and effectively removing the nest and have the tools and supplies that are necessary to protect themselves.
If you know that you are not allergic to the wasps and insist on removing the nest yourself, you should cover your body from head to toe before attempting the removal.
It is best to perform the wasp nest removal during the night time hours because the insects are not as aggressive. The unique reaction time of the insects is much slower than it is during the daytime hours.
Simply spray an appropriate pesticide on the nest where it is open. Be certain to have an escape plan in place as the insects are likely to swarm on you. Once you spray the nest, leave the area. A day or two later – if there is absolutely no activity – you may then knock the next down and completely soak it in the pesticide that you originally used.
The truth of the matter is – regardless of whether you are allergic or not – wasp nest removal is simply quite dangerous. Even if you are not allergic, a loved one may be allergic or a pet may have an adverse reaction. It truly is not worth it to perform the activity yourself.
Regardless of the size of the nest or the location of the nest, you should seek professional assistance to eliminate the nest. We here at All Pest Exterminating, Inc. have the skills, knowledge, tools, and resources to successfully remove any type of wasp nest in any location around your home quickly.
You may call us to schedule an appointment to eliminate your wasp problem by calling the following number today: 765-259-0043