Category Archives: Bees and Wasps

Identification of Bees, Wasps and Hornets in Illinois

Bees, Wasps and Hornets in Illinois

Bees and wasps, although feared by humans for their stings, are very beneficial to the environment and play a key roll in pollination and insect control.

Honey bees pollinate over half of all fruit and vegetable crops. Wasps are predatory insects that attack and consume many pests that are harmful to these same crops. They are both an important piece of the ecosystem in Illinois.

Related: Why we need bees

In this post, we review the most common types of bees, wasps, and hornets in Illinois and how to identify them.

It can be a challenge for many people to tell the difference between bees and wasps. They are both members of the Hymenoptera order of insects, which includes sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants.

Differences between bees and wasps

  • Yellow Jacket Nest in GroundHoney bees are hairy; wasps usually have smooth, shiny skin.
  • Wasps have narrow waists; bees do not have a narrowing of the abdomen.
  • Most bees are about 2.5 centimeters long; wasps are usually longer.
  • Bees may have black or brown bodies with orange or yellow striations. Wasps are brightly colored, with black and yellow patterns.
  • Bees feed nectar and pollen to their young while wasps feed their young insects and spiders.
  •  Yellowjackets and hornets will scavenge for food including fruit, sweets, meats, and carrion.
  • Both bees and wasps can be solitary or live in colonies.

Illinois bees identification

Honey Bees

Honey Bees

  • About 15 mm long
  • Light brown in color
  • Golden yellow bands
  • Tiny hairs on body
  • Live in large colonies of up to 50,000
  •  Lives in cavities of trees, rock formations, and buildings
  • Protected species in Illinois

Bumble BeeBumble Bee

  • 1/2 inch to 1 inch long
  • Buzzing sound
  • Fuzzy black and yellow abdomen
  • Live in old rodent burrows, under porches, and in wall voids.
  • Small colonies of 50-400

Carpenter BeeCarpenter Bees

  • Similar to bumble bee
  • All-black abdomen
  • Solitary
  • Nest in holes chewed in wood

Illinois wasp identification

Paper WaspPaper wasps

  • Very similar in appearance to yellowjackets
  • Black body with yellow markings
  • Slender body with tiny waist
  • Commonly nests on structures
  • Umbrella-like nests hang upside-down from eaves and overhangs
  • Nests can harbor up to 75 wasps

Yellow JacketYellowjackets

  • Aggressive and most likely to sting
  • Smooth and thin body
  • Narrow body and waist
  • Predatory and consumes insects
  • Will feed on human food; attracted to trash and picnics
  • Yellow jackets can sting multiple times

Related: Yellow Jacket Identification and Nest Removal

Illinois Hornet Identification

Here are the Illinois Hornets you will encounter outdoors.

  • Bald Faced Hornet
  • European Hornet
  • Mud Daubers
  • Cicada Killer

Bald faced hornet

Bald Faced Hornet

  • About ¾-inch long
  • Black and white
  • White face
  • Live in paper nest
  • Round oval nest usually hangs from tree branches

European Hornet

European Hornet

  • An inch long or more
  • Reddish brown in color
  • Yellow stripes on the abdomen
  • Nests in trees, attics and wall voids of structures near forested areas

Mud DauberMud Daubers

  • About ¾-inch long
  • Brownish-black with yellow markings
  • Construct tubular nests of mud
  • Hunt spiders to feed young
  • Solitary

Cicada KillerCicada Killer

  • Up to 1.5 inches long
  • Largest wasp in Illinois
  • Mostly black with yellow markings on the abdomen
  • Hunt cicadas in trees to feed young

If you need professional yellow jacket and wasp removal services in the Chicago area, please contact us online or call us (847) 464-1861.


Related information: Illinois Department of Public Health

Yellow Jacket Removal - Identification and Nest Removal

Yellow Jacket Removal – Identification and Nest Removal

When the weather warms up in Chicagoland, you may find some uninvited guests in your home or on your property.

One guest that people can find particularly threatening is yellow jackets and wasps. When they find these stinging pest on their property, they want them removed immediately. And with good reason! Nobody likes stinging insects and yellow jackets can be aggressive and their stings painful.

In this post, we’ll talk about yellow jackets, their identification, nesting habits and how to get rid of them.


If you are looking for immediate yellow jacket or wasp removal services in the Chicago area, please contact us online or call us (847) 464-1861.


Yellow Jacket Identification

Southern Yellowjacket

The Southern Yellowjacket wasp

Yellowjackets are sometimes referred to as “bees” but they are in fact a type of wasp.

Yellowjackets will have alternating yellow, (sometimes white) and black markings.

Yellowjackets have lance-like stingers with small barbs and are able to sting targets repeatedly, although the stinger may become lodged and pull free of the wasp’s body. Its sting is generally only dangerous to people with bee sting allergies.

Honey bee – NOT a wasp

Yellowjackets are insect predators and are not pollen collectors.

Since they are not pollen collectors, yellowjackets are not covered with the distinctive tiny dense hairs on their bodies, or the flattened hairy hind legs that bees have to collect pollen.

Honey bees are a protected species in Illinois and many other states. They are not to be removed without a special nuisance permit and must be relocated to a safe area.

Related: The differences between bees and wasps

What Do Yellow Jackets Eat?

Yellow jackets feed their young insects, most commonly caterpillars, flies, and spiders. This makes up the bulk of their diet during most of the summer.

In late summer, yellow jackets will start searching for flower nectar and other sources of sugar, which they require as food sources for next years queens. This is the time of summer when you might start seeing them turn up at your picnics and outdoor cookouts. They can become a real nuisance this time of year.

Because Yellowjackets are insect hunters, they can actually do a great job of helping control other nuisance insects on your property. However, they can also be aggressive if they feel their nest is threatened, so a nest too close to your door or you kids play areas can be a potential danger.

Related: How to Identify the Pest, Nest, and Threat

How to find a yellowjacket nest

Yellowjackets nests are most commonly built underground, but some species prefer to build nests in openings and spaces they find in homes, such as cracks in foundations or openings in vinyl siding or soffits. The European Paper Wasp is commonly confused with yellowjackets, but the Paper Wasp builds paper nests, commonly hanging in trees.

Finding a yellowjacket nest is not always easy. It may be hundreds of feet away from where they are bothering you. It may be well hidden in the ground with only a small, hard-to-see entrance hole, or located deep inside a building without an obvious entrance.

The best way to find out where the yellowjacket nest is located is to follow their flight path. They almost always move along the same path as they enter and leave the nest. Usually, there is only one entrance or exit, so if you can follow the path back to the general area they all fly to, you should be able to find the entrance.

Take caution approaching it for the first time as you wouldn’t want to accidentally step into it. You also don’t want to appear like a threat and cause them to become aggressive.

Removing a yellow jacket nest

Yellow Jacket Nest in GroundMost people choose to treat the nest with insecticide to kill the yellowjackets rather than removing the nest, which can be both dangerous and often very difficult.

Some people end up deciding that going after the nest isn’t worth the trouble and leave it alone. Wasp colonies will die off every winter, so if it’s not in an inconvenient location, you can leave it alone and they won’t return in the spring.

Related: How to prevent bee and wasp nests

If you are going to try and attack and treat the yellowjacket nest, it is always best to do this in the evening after sunset. This is when most of the yellowjacket workers will be back in the nest for the evening. If you treat it during the day, a majority of the Yellowjackets may not be there.

Depending on where the nest is found, it might be a better option to hire a professional to treat it. If it is hard to get to, you could be putting yourself in a dangerous position trying to get to it from a ladder or in an area overgrown with vegetation. You certainly don’t want to be up on a ladder when yellowjackets decide you’re a threat and begin attacking in large numbers.

If you plan on spraying a nest, make sure you have your escape route planned ahead of time! You want to spray the nest quickly and carefully and then leave immediately.

Wait until the next day to check on it again. Sometimes more than one treatment is needed.


If you are looking for professional yellow jacket or wasp removal services in the Chicago region, please contact us online or call us (847) 464-1861.


We deal with many types of animal removal in Chicago area including wasps and bees, as well as raccoons and bats, but also squirrels, birds and many more.


Image credit: Three YellowjacketsHoneybee
Related Yellowjacket Resources
How to fight back against yellow jackets – Coloradoan
Yellowjackets – Wikipedia
Getting Rid of Wasp Nests – Michigan State University Extension
About Yellow Jackets and the Benefits of Wasps in the Garden – Mother Earth News
All About Yellow Jackets, Bees and Their Kin – Gardeners Supply

 

What Do Animals Do During Fall?

Where do animal pests go when the whether becomes chilly? Surprisingly, many of them stay active before the snowy, winter months hit. Read more to discover what do animals do during fall.

what do animals do during fall

What Do Animals Do During Fall: Migration

Many birds and insects migrate to warmer areas during the chillier months of fall. Because temperatures begin to drop during the fall season, these creatures begin to find more suitable conditions. For example, swallows migrate south once the weather begins to cool and their food sources dwindle. You may think that since some animal pests are leaving during this season you’ll see less activity, but it’s far from the truth. In fact, you may see more activity in your home at this time of year.

What Do Animals Do During Fall: Hibernation Preparation

Other animals prepare to hibernate during the fall. Squirrels, chipmunks, and groundhogs will gather food to store for the winter. Although chipmunks and squirrels do not go into a true hibernation state, they a relatively inactive during the winter. This leads them to frantically stockpile leftover food near your garbages or from your bird feeders. These small mammals can be quite pesky during the fall.

Bats will also hibernate during the cold months. You can expect their presence to taper off as the insect population dies down with the cool weather.

In addition, wasps and bees will still be active during the fall. They do not hibernate until winter. If there’s a nest near your home that needs to be removed, unfortunately the cold weather won’t be enough to detract them. Make sure to call pest control for assistance moving wasps or bee nests.

What Do Animals Do During Fall: Stay Active

Many other animals stay active during this time of year. Skunks, for example, stay in their dens but are awake during winter. You’ll see (and smell) plenty of skunks during the fall. Raccoons behave similarly, and will stay active year round. This means, you still have to be vigilant and remove outdoor food sources for these pests. In fact, you may notice more pest activity because homes have plentiful opportunities for food, while the cool weather limits natural sources.

Opossums are also active during the colder months. You may be surprised to know that they’ll even become active during the day, though they are nocturnal. Nonetheless, you should never take a chance with an opossum behaving strangely, as it may be infected with rabies or another disease.

Lastly, rodents remain highly active during the cold months. You may see more mice and rats in your home during the fall, as fields are plowed and they escape to your safe home. In addition, homes are full of food sources and provide shelter from the elements. Your rodent problem may be highest during the fall. Call Attic Solutions to remove your pests safely and efficiently, so you can enjoy the fall season without pests.

The DIfferences Between Bees and Wasps

BEES AND WASPS

Though both of these flying insects have 4 wings and can sting, there are many differences between bees and wasps. If you find a hive or nest of these insects in or near your home, do not hesitate to call pest control and have them safely removed.

bees and wasps
Honey Bees

  • Hairy bodies
  • Fat, round bodies
  • Flat, wide legs
  • Some are entirely black; others are black and brown with orange or yellow stripes
  • Have four wings
  • Do not hibernate in the winter, live off reserves and heat from worker bees
  • Produce honey
  • Can sting a human once before they die; can a very soft surface sting multiple times
  • Non-aggressive
  • Social
  • Live in wax hives
  • Sip on nectar and drink water

bees and wasps

Wasps

  • Smooth, shiny skin
  • Waists are narrow
  • Slender legs
  • Bright black and yellow
  • Have four wings
  • Hibernate in the winter
  • Cannot produce honey
  • Can sting a human multiple times
  • Aggressive
  • Can be social or solitary depending on species
  • Live in papery nests
  • Eat other insects like flies, attracted to human food like beer and soda

Why We Need Bees

Bees are declining in population and it can make a huge environmental impact. What exactly would be affected? Just about everything.

we need bees

1. Bees help pollinate crops. They make a huge impact on human food supplies, and without them, it’s argued that famine could be a possibility.

we need bees
2. Bees make honey, beeswax, royal jelly; these products are useful for food, animal use, natural remedies etc. Honey is actually considered more effective at immediate cough relief than many medicines.

we need bees
3. Bees make your food taste good. They help pollinate fruits and vegetables and give them flavor and also help extend their shelf life.

we need bees

4. 1/3 of all vegetables and fruits require bees to pollinate them. Without them, we would be left with bananas and pineapples, among a few others.

we need bees
5. Bees make cotton – Without cotton, there’d be no denim as well. We would not have towels, sheets, cotton for clothes, among many of cotton’s other uses.

we need bees
6. Bees make coffee.  Who wants to live in a world without tea or coffee?!

we need bees
7. Bees make seed for pasture/feed grasses. Without them, there would be nothing for our livestock to eat.

we need bees
8. Bees pollinate flowers and trees – 90% of wild plants would die without them. 70% of cultivated plants would die without them.

we need bees
9. Loss of bees means loss of entire ecosystems. Without them, we lose plant, tree, and animal life.

we need bees
10. Bees are disappearing; their population may be at 50% of what it was in the 1940s. This is huge. Conservationists are working to determine what the root causes are. Pesticides and global warming are considered probable.

If you find bees in your home, please do not kill them. Instead, call pest removal who will safely, effectively remove and relocate them. Bees are important creatures to our ecosystem as a whole. Without them we would lose many of our crops among other plant life and vegetation.

How To Identify The Pest, Nest, And Threat

Leafcutter BeeA perfect day can be ruined by one sting from an insect! While stinging insects are not generally life threatening or even extraordinarily dangerous (unless you have an allergy), dealing with a sting is certainly not much fun. In order to keep yourself and your family sting free, follow this guide to identify the pest, the nest, and the threat.

The Pest And Threat

Some stinging insects are more dangerous than others. A professional will be able to determine what stinging insect is what, but this guide will attempt to help as well.

  1. Bumble bees: fuzzy, about ¼ to 1 inch in size and have black and yellow markings. Their nests are built out of pollen clumps on the ground or sometimes in abandoned mouse nests. These insects are generally considered helpful since they pollinate plants and flowers.
  2. Carpenter bees: look similar to bumble bees, but have largely bare and shiny abdomens. These bees do not build nests, but bore into wood, especially decaying or weathered wood. Though they do not have a stinger, male carpenter bees can be territorial and aggressive. Females rarely sting, but these insects can do considerable structural damage.
  3. Honey bees: orangish brown and about ½ to 5/8 inch in size. They live in mass colonies since they are social. These bees are defensive, not aggressive, and only attack if they feel there is a threat.
  4. Yellowjacket: between 3/8 and 5/8 inches with a yellow and black pattern. Their nests can grow to be the size of basketballs and are constructed from paper carton and have a honeycomb shape. Nests could be in garages or corners of porches or on the ground or bushes as well. While they are generally slow to sting, they will if they feel threatened.
  5. Paper wasp: brownish with yellow or red markings. Their nests look similar to paper and generally hang from something like tree branches, door frames and porch ceilings. Paper wasps are very likely to sting if their nest is touched.

The Nest

The Hive One way to keep your family safe is to do regular walk-throughs around your property looking for nests. Look carefully under overhangs, leaves, and the undersides of porches and decks. You also want to check shrubs, bushes, trees, and any other structures like sheds. If you come across a nest, you should not try to remove it on your own. The colony might become agitated and aggressive and attack en masse, which is when a sting goes from being a nuisance to becoming extremely dangerous. A professional will be able to safely remove and/or relocate the nest.

Attic Solutions is fully licensed and insured and prepared to remove the bees from your property, regardless of scope of infestation.

Don’t wait to get stung; call Attic Solutions today. We will help!

How To Prevent Bee And Wasps Nests

Bees are one of the most important and beneficial insects on our planet. Besides producing honey, honey bees pollinate more than half of all our fruit and vegetable crops. Wasps also play a crucial role in our ecosystem: They prey on many of the insects that damage our crops. While bees and wasps are vital to human survival, they can also be harmful. About 100 people per year die from wasp or bee stings and nearly 1 percent of the population is allergic to bee and wasp venom.

When Do Bees And Wasps Become An Issue?

prevent bee and wasp nestsThere are many types of bees and wasps, some of which include Bumble Bees, Honey Bees, Carpenter Bees, hornets, paper wasps, and yellowjackets. In the Midwest, wasps, hornets and yellowjacket colonies usually abandon their nests shortly before winter and then seek shelter until spring. Yellowjackets, often mistaken for bees, are wasps that peak near the end of summer. Yellowjackets often convene in public areas where there is leftover human food and they are attracted to meats and sweet liquids. You can often find them circling around garbage cans and they are notorious for being aggressive and stinging repeatedly. Honeybee colonies can grow as large as 50,000 strong since these bees can survive winters even in northern states.

Where Do Bees And Wasps Build Nests?

Honey Bee nests built from beeswax can usually be found in the tree and rock cavities, while Bumble Bees can be found in wall voids, porches, and old rodent burrows. Paper wasps build the nests you are probably most familiar with. They look like umbrellas and usually hang upside-down from structures. Yellowjackets build papery nests that look like combs. Hornets build the paper nests that hang from trees and other structures and are basketball-shaped.

prevent bee and wasp nests

How To Prevent Wasp And Bee Nests

Preventing bees and wasps from building nests is nearly impossible. There are some paint finishes you can use on outdoor structures to discourage some species like Carpenter Bees, but generally there isn’t much you can do until the insects build their nests. Always use extreme caution when spraying a pesticide and when trying to remove nests while on a ladder.
Sometimes yellowjackets, wasps and hornets build nests in attics, vents, and crawl spaces. It can be dangerous to try to remove colonies from areas like these in your home and it may be best to call trained professionals for removal.