Wasps play an important role in the food web, consuming certain species of insects and keeping their populations in check. However, because wasp stings can be dangerous and wasp nests can cause notable damage to your home, you don’t typically want to find wasps on your property.

The U.S. is home to several different kinds of wasps that you should look out for. Since each one has its own habitat preferences and habits, you should know how to distinguish between them.

1. Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are commonly mistaken for large bees, but in fact, they are a species of wasp. They are named for the yellow bands on their abdomen. You can distinguish them from bumblebees by looking at the texture of their bodies. Bees have little hairs on their bodies, whereas yellow jackets are smooth. These wasps have very painful stings, and they can sting more than once.

Yellow jackets build their nests from wood fibers mixed with saliva. These nests are usually found in old logs, burrows, or crevices in your home’s structure. Yellow jackets live in large colonies of up to 4,000 insects , and their nests can grow quite quickly, so if you find a nest, have it removed as soon as possible.

2. Mud Dauber

Mud daubers, sometimes known as mud wasps, are a group of related insect species that build their nests out of mud. Usually, these wasps are black in color. They have long, slender bodies up to one inch in length, and their waists are very narrow. Mud daubers are what many people picture when they picture a wasp.

Mud daubers are unlikely to sting. However, the nests that they build, once abandoned, can be taken over by more aggressive wasps like yellow jackets and hornets. For this reason, you should always remove mud wasps and their nests when found on your property.

Common places to find mud dauber nests include under the porch ceiling, under eaves, or between walls. You’re most likely to see these insects if you have a wet, muddy yard.

3. Paper Wasps

Paper wasps also have a classic wasp appearance. Their bodies are brown, sometimes with a few yellow or red markings. They have narrow waists and very long, slender legs. Most are about 3/4 inch long. Paper wasps are not overly aggressive, but they will sting if threatened, so use care when exterminating them.

Paper wasps are named for the paper-like appearance of their nests. You’re most likely to find a nest hidden in a shrub or hanging from a fence. In the fall, when the weather turns cold, paper wasps sometimes find their way into homes.

4. Bald-Faced Hornets

Although hornets and wasps are often thought of as different creatures, hornets are actually a subset of the wasp family. Bald-faced hornets are related to yellow jackets and are similarly aggressive, but the two species do differ in appearance. Bald-faced hornets are mostly black with white faces. They’re about 1/2 inch long with smooth, slender bodies.

Bald-faced hornets build their nests suspended from the ground, usually hanging from a tree or other structure. Since these insects are highly aggressive and sting easily, you should never attempt to remove a nest yourself. Always rely on an expert exterminator, and stay far away from the nest in the meantime.

Finding wasps of any kind on your property can be scary, but an exterminator can remove the nest and restore your peace of mind. If you spot wasps or other stinging insects on your land, contact Environmental Services Pest Control, LLC . We service Montgomery County and the surrounding areas.