OSU Extension advises caution with stinging insects

Wasps that live in colonies, like these paper wasps, attack in swarms when threatened. To avoid dangerous encounters, removal of their hives is best left to professional pest control.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — As the days continue to get hotter, wasps and bees continue to thrive. For Oklahoma residents wanting to spend time outside, caution is advised when coming in close proximity with nests and hives.

Wasps benefit human beings by preying on insects that infest gardens and crops. Bees assume the essential role of pollinators, assisting plants with reproducing and providing animals oxygen to breathe.

While many species live in colonies and attack if provoked, most are solitary, rarely sting and should usually be left to nest, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Solitary species include mud-daubers, cicada-killers and potter wasps. They can be identified by mud nests on walls and ceilings, mounds in soil and small, hanging clay pots.

However, stinging species, including yellow jackets and paper wasps, can be dangerous - especially to those with allergies. Their colonies thrive in underground nests and in the more noticeable paper combs that hang in corners and from eaves, trees and bushes.

"If they're not in your way, leave them alone," said Carl Wallace, Oklahoma State University Extension educator and county director. "But if they're nesting in a doorway or somewhere frequently traveled, they probably need to be dealt with."

During this time of year, wasps are more active than ever.

"As the temperature gets warmer, they get more aggressive," said Tyler Nipper, Cherokee Pest Control service technician. "In the spring, they're not too bad, but during the summer, they start laying larvae and getting protective."

According to OCES, destruction of hives can be difficult and dangerous and is best left to professionals. Pressurized aerosol spray can be used to soak and knock them down if residents want to remove nests themselves.

Cherokee Pest Control recommends residents to reach out for help anytime pests are in close proximity, including on porch ceilings and above doors, in order to avoid stinging or swarming.

If approached by a wasp or bee, OCES recommends to move away slowly, as rapid movements provoke stinging.

If stung, it is normal to experience pain, redness and swelling. Affected areas should be washed and kept clean to avoid secondary infection. However, those experiencing severe symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea, asthma or a drop in blood pressure, should seek medical help immediately.

Learn more

For more information on wasp and bee safety, visit the OSU Extension website at http://factsheets.okstate.edu/documents/epp-7305-paper-wasps-yellowjackets-and-other-stinging-wasps/.


Gogo writes for Tahlequah Daily Press, a CNHI News Service publication.

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