When it comes to pest control in Southern Louisiana, there may be a number of different critters and insects you are looking get rid of. One of the most disturbing flying pests found active throughout the state, especially during the summer months, are wasps. Though wasps do provide benefits to the ecosystem they habit, for humans they pose risks of stinging, which is not only painful but can also lead to dangerous allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock. If a wasp nest is not in a location that greatly disturbs human activity, it is best to avoid it and tolerate it as best as possible. If there are many human-wasp interactions, however, it may be time to look into professional wasp control. Before you enlist an extermination team, learn more about the habitats, dispositions, and food sources of these stinging insects with the following wasp facts.
Difference Between Wasps and Bees
When identifying insect species for pest control, it is important to make sure you are dealing with wasps rather than environmentally essential honeybees. One of the main differences between wasps and bees is why the former is considered a pest, and that is the wasp’s temperament. Wasps are known to be much more aggressive than bees.
In terms of physical traits, wasps have longer, more slender bodies with narrow waists. Additionally, while both bees and wasps drink nectar, wasps are unable to turn that nectar into honey. Similarly, most wasp species do not pollinate, although there are a few species known to contribute successfully to plant pollination.
Types of Wasps
It may surprise you to learn that both hornets and yellow jackets are actually types of wasps. All are typically much more aggressive than bees and are a target for rapid pest control. Hornets live in large, highly organized colonies. Their main physical distinctions are their size, which is typically much bigger than other wasps, and their coloring, which is usually black and white or reddish-brown. Yellow jackets are noted for their bright yellow and black markings. Unlike other types of wasps, however, yellow jackets often build their nests low in trees and bushes along wooded regions. They are often highly aggressive and may sting repeatedly.
The ultimate goal of wasp control is to eliminate the nest. This should only be done, however, if it is causing a persistent problem for humans in the vicinity, as tampering with the nest is in itself a risky action. Wasps are highly defensive and protective of their nests and will usually swarm to defend it.
They tend to build these colony structures in locations that are not easily visible to humans, which can lead to surprise encounters, aggressive wasps, and painful stings. Most wasps build their nests out of paper-like material or mud in such places as under the branches of trees, attic rafters, window and door frames, under deck or porch floors, house eaves, porch ceilings, and under railings. When wasps begin to die off during cooler weather, their nests are deserted and are usually not reused by subsequent generations.
Within a nest, colonies may contain between 1,500 and 15,000 wasps, depending on the species, all populated by a single reproductive female. Pest control seeks to eliminate the nest, effectively destroying the colony. Each colony typically includes three kinds of wasps: the queen, the female workers, and the male drones. The queen lives for approximately one year and will hibernate in the winter to emerge in the spring, usually around May. The female workers live for about three weeks, while the male drones may live slightly longer than their female counterparts, and their main purpose is reproduction.
Wasp Food Sources
Like bees, wasps are drawn to sweet food sources, such as nectar, honey, sugar, and fruit. In fact, they have been known to occasionally steal large quantities of honey from beehives. Because of their diet, wasps tend to build their nests near picnic sites, outdoor patios, or any places with open garbage cans. Initial stages of pest control can include changing human habits to keep an area cleaner and free of wasp food sources. In addition to sweets, however, some species of wasps also feed on other insects, both living and dead. This means they can keep your garden free of other pests and are actually beneficial to the growth of flowers and other plants.
Indoor infestations are serious occasions for professional pest control. Luckily, wasps do not usually come into homes purposefully, except for a queen looking for a roost to hibernate through the winter. If a nest has been built near a window, door, or exposed crack, then wasps may begin to fly in and out of your home looking for food. Sometimes, however, wasps may build their nest inside an exterior wall, with access via a small hole or crack. When homeowners see wasps flying in and out of this crack, they tend to seal it up, often inadvertently trapping wasps inside the house. They may then begin to chew through the wallboard and infest your home.
Wasp stings are one of the biggest threats of infestations and one of the prime reasons to call in professionals for pest control. Unlike bees, wasps do not die when they sting you, nor do their stingers stay in your skin, but their poison can be potent. Wasps also inject a chemical with their sting that makes you more easily detectable to other wasps, which is why it is especially important to avoid wasp nests and their swarms.
Quick treatments for wasp stings include washing the wound with warm soapy water, reducing any swelling with ice, applying an antiseptic, and taking painkiller or antihistamine to reduce soreness or itchiness. If you are stung and start showing signs of a serious allergic reaction, it is imperative to see a doctor immediately.
With this collection of wasp facts, you can be better prepared to recognize a potential infestation. Pest control is an essential mitigation strategy for keeping your home or office space a healthy living environment for humans and other non-pest species. While wasps provide some benefits to nearby gardens, if their aggression becomes intolerable, be sure to contact your local exterminator for effective wasp control.
Southern Louisiana, with its warm, subtropical climate, is a favorite spot for vacationers. It is also a prime destination for insects. They thrive in the moist climate, and the topography provides many places for them to live. Like humans, insects want to be left alone to find shelter, eat food, mate, and raise young. When the worlds of humans and insects collide, though, some biting and stinging bugs will defend themselves, however reluctantly. In certain cases, you may want to consider pest control services. In southern Louisiana, it is a good idea to ask this important question: Will it bite?
In short, yes. However, mosquitoes do not actually bite. Rather, female mosquitoes insert a straw-like mouthpart through and under your skin in order to feed. Your body instantly reacts to a substance the mosquito releases just beneath your skin, and your immune system kicks into action. It sends histamine, which makes blood vessels swell, causing the characteristic bumps you see after a close encounter with a mosquito. Nearby nerves become irritated from the swollen vessels, resulting in an itching sensation.
Not likely. In general, termites feast upon wood rather than humans. Soldier termites, though, can become biting bugs if they feel they are under attack. Therefore, bites from these termites only happen when they are severely threatened. This is a case where it is best to leave these insects alone and hire professional for termite pest control.
Yes. After a tick gets on your body, it generally settles in your hair, armpit, or groin. It will get comfortable and begin to take in blood, growing larger as it feeds. The tick may gorge for days, or in some cases weeks, before releasing its hold and falling off. Once attached, ticks do not roam around, nor does one tick make multiple bites. The best way to know if you have received a bite from a tick is to search your body. Ticks are generally harmless, but they can pose a danger to those who are allergic to them. Some ticks also carry viruses that can cause debilitating illnesses.
Unlikely. Spiders are not aggressive bugs. They only bite when they are feeling threatened. In fact, they do not want to have contact with you any more than you want to with them, and they will only bite in cases of accidental contact, such as a human reaching into a nook where a spider is hiding. Most spiders’ fangs cannot penetrate human skin. More sensitive individuals could sometimes experience localized swelling, redness, and pain should a bite occur when there is inadvertent contact (during the night while sleeping, for example), but many humans would not even notice a bite.
There are more than 3,000 species of spiders throughout the United States, with only three of these considered dangerous to humans. All three of those species are found in Louisiana:
The best rule to avoid these bugs is to look before sticking your hand anywhere. Pay attention to your surroundings. One of the names says it all: recluse. These spiders want to find quiet places, and they only bite if they feel severely threatened. Leave them alone, and they are more than happy to return the favor.
Probably not. So-called stink bugs are vegetable and fruit eaters, and they usually do not bother humans. Like other insects such as termites, they only bite if they feel severely threatened.
Not likely. Cockroaches are generally not biting bugs. They may bite humans only in cases of severe food depletion, and even then they only target people who are sedentary.
Yes. Ants do bite. However, each species has its own type of “attack.” Sugar ants sometimes bite humans in defense, but their bites usually do not cause pain. Carpenter ants, however, can inflict painful bites if they are feeling threatened. Fire ants also bite, but it is their sting that has become infamous. They bite in order to grip their prey securely, then begin to sting. Fire ants can build huge mounds from which they swarm out if disturbed. They have been known to harm and even kill livestock.
No. Bees are not biting bugs but rather stinging insects. Female bees are the ones that can sting. When a honeybee stings, however, it pays the ultimate price: Its stinger becomes embedded in the human’s skin, and the bee dies. Queen bees retain their stingers and can sting multiple times, but they seldom venture out in the open and encountering one is not likely.
Bumblebees are not hostile. When a female bumblebee feels severely threatened, though, it will caution you up to three times before stinging by raising and then straightening its middle legs and displaying its stinger. If you see this, back away from the bee, and it will not bother you. If a bumblebee is driven to sting, it retains its stinger and so does not die.
No. Like bees, wasps are not biting bugs; they sting. Only the females attack humans, and their stingers do not detach, allowing them to sting multiple times during an assault. Like most insects, they become violent only to defend themselves when they feel they are in danger. They will not bite humans, but they can bite prey or objects when building a nest.
No, but some sting. For example, the large American Dagger Moth is safe enough, but its caterpillars are bristly and will give anyone who gets too close an uncomfortable sting. Generally, if in doubt, do not touch.
Insect Etiquette 101
Just like humans, insects in southern Louisiana want to feel safe while they go about their daily activities. Most biting bugs and stinging insects are not aggressive in themselves, as long as you respect their spaces and do not provoke them. In some cases, however, such as termite infestations, you may want to engage pest control professionals to prevent costly damage to your home or business. Other species, such as mosquitoes and ticks, feed on blood and will seek you out. A good rule is to leave insects alone and show consideration for their habitats, and teach children to do the same. The best way to coexist with insects is to carefully look but do not touch, and chances are they will not harm you.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.