What You Need to Know About Wasps & Hornets


As summer ramps up across Florida, many people are making plans to enjoy a day at the lake, go camping, or just relax in the comfort of their backyard. But it comes as no surprise to many that you will not be the only ones enjoying the warmer weather. The heat and humidity will bring about many pests around your home and common summer hangout spots. Flies, ants, and mosquitoes are just a few unwanted guests you will experience around your home. However, there is one kind of pest that is not only unwelcome, but can cause you and your family serious physical and financial pain: the stinging pest.

About 500,000 hospital visits per year are attributed to wasp and hornet stings. Cases range from mild irritation to severe pain and allergic reactions. So, what do you need to know about these pests to help make your sunny days more enjoyable? Here are the three most common types of wasps you will encounter in Florida this summer.

Yellow Jackets:

When inspecting your surroundings for a wasp or hornet’s nest, it is important to look for flying activity and listen for faint buzzing. This is especially important for yellow jackets, who tend to nest underground or inside wall voids. They will be seen flying in or out of an entry or exit hole to the nest, which can grow up to the size of a basketball. Yellow jackets are an exceptionally aggressive species of wasp, and a single nest can contain up to 3,000 workers. If you are stung by a yellow jacket near its nest, you should attempt to leave the area as quickly as possible as a stinging yellow jacket releases a pheromone to signal other nearby yellow jackets to attack.

Red/Black Paper Wasps:

Another common wasp species is the red or black paper wasp. These wasps can be located in the corners of your soffits around the exterior of the home, under railings around your porch or deck, or anywhere they can find a cornered space to fit themselves in. Their nests have a paper-honeycomb appearance and grow to be 6-8 inches in width. Typically, a matured nest can hold 20-75 wasps. While being the least aggressive of the other wasps listed, paper wasps will still attack if they feel threatened.


The last common wasp species you may encounter this summer is the hornet. Hornet nests are shaped like an inverted teardrop, have a paper-like appearance, and contain an entry/exit hole at the base of the nest. They are usually built in higher areas like tree branches or soffits around your home. These teardrop nests can grow to be a little over a foot in diameter and house up to 700 workers. Hornet workers can grow to be 1 inch in length, twice the size of a yellow jacket worker. Just like our previously mentioned wasps, these wasps will not hesitate to attack if they feel threatened in their territory. While they may not be as aggressive as the yellow jacket, hornet stings are known to be more painful if you get caught too close to their nest.

Now that you know a little bit more about each common wasp species, what can you do to avoid a sting in the first place? The National Pest Management Association provides these key tips to keep you and your loved ones protected:

  • Be sure to wear shoes in grassy areas.
  • Remove or cover garbage receptacles.
  • Avoid swinging/swatting at stinging insects.

If you happen to be stung and are unsure if an allergic reaction will occur, seek medical attention immediately while applying a cold compress to the sting sight. If you discover an infestation near your home, it is best to contact a licensed pest control company to help you in alleviating the issue.

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