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Wasps, Yellow jackets and Other Stinging Summer Guests

OUCH! Anyone that’s ever been stung by a wasp knows how painful it is, and what a hassle trying to get rid of them is. All wasps are not created equal, so here’s a guide to help you identify the common types that live in the Houston area:

paper wasp
Brown paper wasp

Paper wasps

If you’ve noticed a wasp nest in the crevices of your house or garage, it is most likely the home of this common type of wasp. Paper wasps are brown and about an inch long with a narrow waist. They’re called paper wasps because of the cellulose-based material they use to make their nests, which is created by chewing up wood or vegetation. They can be beneficial to your garden by pollinating plants and eating insects, but will attack if they feel their home or queen is being threatened.

yellow jacket
Yellow jacket

Yellow jackets

These bee lookalikes are named for their distinct yellow and black striped pattern. They build hanging nests like paper wasps, but may also make their home underground in rodent burrows. Yellow jackets are territorial and quick to aggression, easily provoked by sounds or vibrations. They attack in groups and sting repeatedly, and will even give chase over long distances to defend their nest. Their diet mainly consists of other insects, but they are also fond of sugars so you may find them scavenging near your trash cans!

mud dauber
Mud Dauber

Mud daubers

Unlike yellow jackets and paper wasps, mud daubers are solitary wasps that don’t live in colonies. A female mud dauber will build a small nest made of mud for just her and her family underneath overhangs, on the sides of buildings, or in unused equipment. They prey on insects (particularly spiders) by stinging and paralyzing them, saving their food until they’re ready to eat instead of killing it right away. Mud daubers can sting but will most likely not, as they are not aggressive and do not have a nest or queen to defend. They have the same narrow waist as other wasps, but typically appear black or blue with metallic markings.



The easiest way to identify a hornet is by its size; hornets are larger than other wasps, about 1-1.5 inches long and with a thicker waist. They are reddish brown or yellow, but not as brightly colored as yellow jackets. Hornets live in large colonies and prefer to make their football-shaped nests in high areas such as tall trees. They have a reputation for being aggressive, but like all other wasps will only attack if they are being threatened. Hornets eat other large insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars and even other wasps! They don’t scavenge for sweets like yellow jackets, but they enjoy drinking tree sap and may strip bark from trees in order to get to it.

Wasps probably won't bother you if you leave them alone, but they will aggressively defend their nests if they think you are a threat. Wasp stings are painful and can be deadly if you are allergic to the venom. Don’t risk getting hurt if you want to rid your property of wasp nests, call us and we will do the dirty work for you!

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