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Bees & Wasps

CICADA KILLER

cicada killerYour yard is your oasis, to get away, relax and play with your kids. But, it can become a place full of terror when giant bees or Cicada Killers invade (the measure between 1 -1 5/8 inches). Unlike other bees, Cicada Killers are solitary creatures, living in nests in the ground. The female Cicada Killer will find patches of bare ground or sandy soil and make burrows about ½ inch in diameter that extend as far as 10 inches. Often, there will be multiple nests in the same area housing multiple eggs that will survive the winter only to emerge next spring.

Cicada Killers get their name from the fact that, after building their nests, the females will immediately hunt for Cicadas or large flies (the males “sing” or make a buzzing sound to attract females and begin mating). The Cicada Killers will sting and paralyzing the flies, carrying them back to the bee’s nest for the larvae to feed on. Cicada Killers are very aggressive towards members of their own species, but pose little threat to humans. Females won’t sting unless stepped on and males are all “buzz,” but no sting. Often they hover very close, trying to make themselves appear dangerous, but they’re simply over-compensating for having no stinger.

If you find Cicada Killers in your yard, call Accurate Termite & Pest Control immediately. Cicada Killers may not be a threat to your safety but they are certainly a giant nuisance. Store-bought sprays might be able to kill the adults, but they won’t kill the eggs in the burrows. After your treatment, it is important to plant new grass in the bare areas of your yard. This will help to prevent future infestations. Cicada Killers can destroy your yard and your fun, but we at Accurate Termite & Pest Control can give you your yard back.

YELLOW JACKETS

yellow jacketImagine your child playing in the yard and accidently trips over a tree root or runs through a pile of leaves and suddenly, hundreds of bees fly out and start stinging. This scenario may seem dramatic, but it’s actually common - an unsuspecting victim stumbles upon a Yellow Jackets nest.

Yellow Jackets are often mistaken for bees because of their similar size and color. Like many species of bees, yellow jackets typically measure between 3/8-5/8 of an inch but carry a distinct yellow and black colored pattern on their abdomen. The main difference between these two bees, however, is that bees have little hairs all over their body that make them appear “fuzzy,” while Yellow Jackets are hairless and seem almost sleek.

Every spring begins with a new nest. As the queen emerges from hibernation, she immediately constructs a home with a bit of chewed up cellulose (wood pulp or plant material) to create a golf-ball sized nest, consisting of a few cells for her to lay the first eggs. After about 30 days, a few workers will emerge from these eggs and take over the nest building, allowing the queen to focus on reproduction. Yellow Jacket colonies have a very distinct social structure. Most of the females (except for a few reproductive ones) are workers in the colony, while the males, or “drones,” exist purely for reproductive purposes. At its peak, a nest will typically contain between 2,000-6,000 cells and 1,000-4,000 workers, all of which can sting. As cold weather approaches, the colony will produce reproductive females. These females are soon impregnated and sent off to find a safe place to overwinter. These females are the only members of the colony that will live to see the next year.

This may come as a surprise, but Yellow Jackets are considered beneficial insects because they are predators of many arthropod species. But, when they choose to nest near humans, they quickly become a health hazard, multiplied because their nests are rarely in obvious places. Most species of Yellow Jackets prefer to nest in the ground, suspending their nests from roots, logs, or landscape timbers, staying completely unseen until their nest is disturbed. Some species will make their way even closer to humans. The Aerial Yellow Jacket will often make their nest in shrubs or bushes near houses, but they will also make nests in the dark corners of garages or sheds. The German Yellow Jacket is even braver building their nests in structural voids; behind siding, inside cracks in the foundation, gutters, etc. At times, their nest can become so extensive that they will make their way inside homes.

IF YOU STUMBLE UPON A YELLOW JACKET NEST, call us at Accurate Termite & Pest Control immediately so we can take care of the problem. The makers of wasp-killing aerosols make it seem like you can easily rid yourself of this problem; but make no mistake, a hidden Yellow Jacket nest can be very dangerous and difficult to control. Without the proper chemicals and equipment, there is a high risk of getting stung. And, even though you may never have been allergic to their sting before, at any time you can become hypersensitive and develop a deadly allergy. If Yellow Jackets have made a nest in the side of your house, do not seal the entrance up from the outside until the entire nest has been professionally eliminated. Doing so will only force the agitated bees inside your home, making your problem worse. Don’t attack a nest alone; let Accurate Termite & Pest Control come to the rescue.

If you would like to learn more about wood-destroying bees, see our Carpenter Bees article.

HONEY BEES

honeybeeIt is often said if Honey Bees were extinct, humans wouldn’t be far behind because they are extremely important as pollinators. In recent years, there have been protests aimed to raise awareness of their importance. Today, Honey Bees are now protected unless they are a health hazard (see below for removal of nest).

There are two common species of Honey Bees in the United States - the European Honey Bee and the Africanized Honey Bee. The European Honey Bee thrives throughout the U.S. while the Africanized Honey Bee seems to only thrive in warmer, more humid climates, such as southern California, Nevada, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and other areas with similar climates.

European Honey Bee workers have a body length of 1/2 - 5/8 inches, are orange-brown in color which is covered in branched, pale hair setting them apart from other bees. Honey Bee queens are slightly larger, measuring 5/8 - 3/4 inches. Mature colonies can have anywhere from 20,000 – 80,000 individuals, consisting of the queen, sterile females and male drones. The queen lays about 1,500 - 2,000 eggs a day and can live up to five years, whereas worker bees live only 5 - 7 weeks in summer. Workers that are born in the autumn, however, survive over the winter. This is because, unlike other bee species, the entire Honey Bee population overwinters. As winter approaches, they store honey in the center of the hive. Then, all worker bees cluster around the queen to keep her warm and feed on the stored honey to survive. The worker bees on the outside of the cluster shiver to create extra heat to help them endure through extreme temperatures. Honey Bees are the only bees known to survive winter in this fashion.

Honey Bees also differ from other species in the way they swarm. While other bees swarm to create satellite nests, Honey Bees only swarm when the colony gets too large. A swarm of Honey Bees can look very scary and intimidating, but while in a swarm they are typically docile. At other times, they tend to be non-aggressive, unless the hive is threatened. If you happen to get stung, the stinger should be removed immediately before your muscle contractions drive it deeper, releasing more toxins.

Nest Removal - If you suspect you have Honey Bees, avoid killing them unless they are an immediate health hazard. The nest should be removed by a professional beekeeper. Once the nest is removed, seal any entryways that may have been used to get inside your house (if that is where they were nesting).

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