Be on the Lookout for Bees and Wasps
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2012
It continues to be the time of year
when bees and wasps are among the backyard
creatures that are commonly encountered, says University of Illinois Extension
Horticulture Educator, Candice Miller. "We have had several calls coming into
the extension office about people asking what they should do."
to the shortage of rain this year, it seems that bees and wasps are being
especially attracted to the areas in the yard with the most moisture. Bees for
instance, are typically attracted to the garden because of their need for
sugar, but they also need water which they use to cool their hive through
the cicada killer, yellowjackets are the most likely wasp to see in late
summer. Yellowjackets are 1/2-inch-long, black-and-yellow-banded wasps. They
live in places such as underground nests, woodpiles, hollow trees or holes in
the wall of a building. Late in the summer, nests may contain several thousand
wasps. Of the Illinois bees and wasps, this is probably the most likely to
sting. Yellowjackets are easily provoked and can sting more than once. They may
attack in force if their nest is disturbed.
are a few things to look for in your yard:
coloration – yellow, orange, and black markings on wasps and bees for example -
warns of the ability to sting or bite. Usually, these insects are busy
collecting supplies for their nests and are completely uninterested in humans.
They will only react if disturbed, captured, or crushed. Learning to leave them
alone and moving slowly away is a good strategy.
often nest below ground with an opening near surface rocks, landscape logs, or
beneath shrubs. Some social wasps and hornets' nest in hollow spaces in trees,
toy chests, and similar places. Seeing them regularly fly to and from a
specific spot in the yard suggests a nest. Avoid the area until the presence of
a nest can be confirmed and treated.
Sweat bees and
other insects often land on the skin. Brushing them off is much better than
slapping them, which often results in a sting.
Sweet drinks and
food can attract bees and wasps, especially later in the summer. Keep food and
drink covered when outdoors to minimize attraction. Clean up sweet, sticky
spills quickly to avoid attracting many unwanted visitors.
especially when used infrequently, provide the loose, well-drained area that
ground-nesting bees and wasps prefer. Thoroughly disturbing the sand every
couple of weeks should make the area unsuitable for tunneling insects.
avoidance and prevention can go a long way but dealing with established wasps
and hornets is best left to professionals.
It is suggested
that you try to eliminate only those wasp colonies that really present a
threat. Wasps and hornets are valuable predators of insects, so we shouldn't
indiscriminately wipe them out. If a wasp colony is in an area where you can
simply avoid it, do so. Mark the spot and just stay away. If the wasps are not causing a problem, the best
solution is to wait until the nest is abandoned in the fall. The nest can be
safely removed in the winter or, if left alone, will break up during late fall
causing problems can be destroyed with an insecticide. Insecticide applications
are best made during late evening or cool periods in early morning, when the
wasps do not readily fly and most foragers have returned to the colony. A
variety of insecticides are currently sold for this purpose with active
ingredients including permethrin, deltamethrin, tralomethrin, bifenthrin, tetramethrin,
allethrin, and esfenvalerate. Many of these are combination products that
include a fast-acting, short-lived ingredient (e.g., allethrin, tetramethrin)
with an insecticide that is more persistent in ability to control wasps (e.g.,
permethrin). Care should always be taken when applying insecticides and the
label should be read thoroughly. A professional can always be called to take
care of the problem as well.
wasp traps only are effective for yellowjackets. They are not attractive for
paper wasps or hornets and will not assist in control of these types of wasps.
If you have
further questions about bees and wasps or other home horticulture questions
call the Master Gardener Helpline, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the
University of Illinois Extension at (815) 235-4125.
Source: Candice Miller, Extension Educator, Horticulture, firstname.lastname@example.org