Stinging Insects

Stinging Insects 101

We are blessed with a variety of flora and fauna here in Missouri, and some of that fauna comes equipped with self-defense measures they won’t hesitate to deploy. If you’re going to enjoy outdoor activity during the warm months, then it’s a good idea to be able to identify these insects and how to avoid getting stung. More than half a million people end up in the emergency room every year because of stinging insects according the National Pest Management Association. Those with allergies are most at risk, but anyone is endangered in case of a swarm.

Take some time at the beginning of BBQ season to tour your property and look for hives and nests. Check the exterior of your home, and be especially vigilant when inspecting the undersides of your eaves, porches, decks and other structures. Do not attempt to remove a nest on your own, as these insects can be very aggressive in defense of their nest and attack as a swarm. Contact us so that we can send out a trained professional to remove or relocate the hive. Wasps and yellowjackets can be extremely dangerous and honeybees enjoy legal protection in the state of Missouri. It’s important to be able to identify the species in order to avoid harm to yourself or the threat of legal action.


Bumblebees are between ¼ – 1 inch in size, have black and yellow markings and an overall fuzzy appearance. They build their nests out of pollen clumps, often in an abandoned mouse nest. Bumblebees are pollinators, thus beneficial insects. However, they can sting. If a nest is located in or near a structure, then control is necessary.

Honey Bees

Honeybees are social insects and live in hives that can grow up to 80,000 individuals. They’re not aggressive but can be defensive and if something is threatening the hive they will attack. Many people suffer from an allergy to the honeybee sting and should take extra care not to disturb a hive.

Bald Faced Hornet

Bald-faced hornets are largely black in color, with a white face. They build nests out of paper in exposed, elevated locations such trees, structural overhangs and utility poles. These nests can often grow to 14 inches in diameter and 24 inches in length. Hornets prey on many problematic pest species and are considered a beneficial insect. They can pose a threat if they nest too close to humans however, and control measures are warranted.

Paper Wasp

The paper wasp is brownish in color with yellow or reddish markings. Nests can be found hanging nearly anywhere there’s room, from twigs and branches of trees and shrubs, as well as porch ceilings, door frames, eaves, deck floor joints, railings, etc. Paper wasps can be quite defensive around their nest. Like the bald-faced hornet, paper wasps are considered beneficial insects and prey on many pest insect species. Ff their nest is located near an inhabited structure, control is advised.


Yellowjackets are yellow and black, usually sized between 3/8 – 5/8 inches. They live in nests composed of paper carton, which can grow to be the size of a soccer ball. Each nest contains a number of round paper combs, attached one below another and covered with a layered envelope. Yellowjackets are only aggressive if their nest is threatened, and if they build too close to a human habitation control is recommended.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are between 1/2 – 1 inch in size. They look much like bumblebees, but their abdomen is bare and shiny rather than furry. Carpenter bees do not make nests, but bore into decaying or weathered wood to make galleries for rearing their young. A serious property threat, carpenter bees can cause structural damage over time if they are not eliminated. Male carpenter have no stinger but may hover near your face as a threat display. Female carpenter bees have a potent sting but rarely use it. Carpenter bees are not a threat to people, but they are a threat to their homes.

It can be extremely dangerous to tamper with the nest of a stinging insect. Our technicians are trained professionals with protective equipment who can eradicate or relocate nests without risk of harm.

image identifying stinging insects