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There are two types of insects that fall into this category. They are SOCIAL and NON-SOCIAL stinging hymenoptera. The social stinging hymenoptera are the more dangerous of these two and can attack an individual in large numbers with serious consequences. The non-social stinging hymenoptera, although can sting, tend to be more docile and sting only when seriously threatened.

Medical Reactions to Stings

Bee stings (which may come from bees, wasps, or hornets, but I will use the term bee stings for simplicity sake) can cause serious medical reactions with some people. For others, the sting will result in a sharp burning sensation and swelling. Many people are afraid that this may be an allergic reaction. It is not. The following symptoms occur to people who are having an allergic reaction to bee stings:
1. Labored Breathing
2. Difficulty Swallowing
3. Hoarseness or Thickened Speech
4. Nausea or Vomiting
5. Weakness
6. Dizziness
7. Confusion

Once these symptoms begin to occur, it is imperative that the person gets immediate medical attention. Allergic reactions can be fatal if not taken care of immediately. Most people know that they are allergic and either avoids situation that can cause a sting or bring medication with them. However, even some people who have been stung before and did not have an allergic reaction, can develop an allergic reaction later in life. Always be aware of these symptoms.

Basic First Aid

Non-allergic reactions (a burning sensation and swelling) can be alleviated in several ways:
1. Removal of the stinger - The barbs on some stingers (especially bees) cause the stinger to be separated from the bee after stinging. Attached to the stinger often is a venom sack. This sack will continue to pump venom into the victim until it is empty. The stinger should carefully be pulled out, being careful not to squeeze the venom sack.
2. Topical Treatments - There are medications (ointments and salves) that can be applied to the surface of the skin to help alleviate the pain. Other "old fashioned " remedies include putting meat tenderizer or a baking soda / water paste on the affected area. These methods tend to draw out the venom if done soon after the stinging incident.
3. Putting cold compresses on the sting area will also reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain. However, once the compress is removed, the pain will return.
Always remember, if allergic symptoms occur, get medical help as soon as possible. If not sure, go ahead and see the doctor; it's always better to be safe than sorry.


Stinging insects (within the insect class of hymenoptera) fall into two basic categories, SOCIAL and NON-SOCIAL .

Social stinging hymenoptera


Approximately 1/2 inch in length. Their body is black with yellow stripes traversing the abdomen from side to side. Their thorax typically has one or two stripes as well. These insects often build their nests underground, filling cavities that already exist. They have been known to nest in cavities created by mammals (mouse burrows) as well as in or around hollow block, around railroad tiles and inside woodpiles. In the Northeast, German Yellowjackets often nest in wall voids, attics, or crawl spaces. These nests look like an inverted teardrop or odd shaped ball.

This is the largest paper wasp and is the only true hornet in the United States. Its body is brownish and marked with orange. They have a similar type nest as does the yellowjacket.

This hornet (really a type of yellowjacket) is moderately large and has whitish or yellowish marking on the front of the head, between the eyes. The body is basically black. Again, their nests are similar to those of the yellowjackets.

Eastern species of paper wasps are typically a dusky brown color, marked with various shades of orange, or black with yellow markings. Western species tend to have their orange or yellow markings more prominent. Their nests tend to be simple, with a row of open cells pointing downward. They tend to be suspended beneath eaves and window ledges or porch roofs.

Bumblebees generally nest underground. These bees tend to be large, 1 to 1 1/4 inches in length. They are covered with hairs, giving a furry appearance. They are also yellow with a prominent black stripe across the back.

Honeybees can be various shades of yellow, black, brown, or orange, with the head, antennae, legs and a portion of the abdomen being dark. The body is covered with light colored hairs, thickest at the top of the thorax. Workers are usually about 2/3 inch in length.

Non-Social Stinging Hymenoptera


Mud dauber wasps can be distinguished from other wasps because they do not fold up their wings, but instead lay their wings on top of each other in a flat position and lay them on top of their bodies. They are also seen alongside mud puddles gathering mud to build their nests with. They build their nests out of mud. They are usually single celled structures of mud plastered to the walls of structures or on the rafters in attics, garages, or out buildings. Although they are single cell structures, they build several cells side by side.

These wasps can be up to 2 inches long. The body is black and noticeably marked with yellow. They dig nests into the ground, leaving a burrow approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. Soil can be seen thrown out of the nest, leaving a small pile of dirt at the entrance.
Carpenter BeeCarpenter Bee Damage

Carpenter bees resemble large bumblebees. In the east, the carpenter bee is black in color and marked with areas of yellow hair, but the dorsal sides of the abdominal segments have no area of hair. Other species of carpenter bees will be black, green, or purplish in color, and are variously marked with whitish, yellowish, or reddish hair. They build their nest by boring long tunnels into wood and divide these tunnels into cells, where they leave their eggs and food. There nest is noticeable by the presence of a 5/8 inch perfect hole (as if someone took a drill and made the hole) along with yellowish dropping near the hole. However, as the dropping age, they tend to darken and become black within 6 months to a year. Carpenter bees drill holes into unpainted of badly weathered wood. Therefore, sometimes the entrance hole is not visible. Carpenter bees may squeeze through openings (cracks and crevices) around soffets or facia boards, and nest in the opposite side of the wood, which is usually unpainted. They will, in these situations though, leave behind their dropping.



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