Stinging Insects and maintaining delicate balance to the ecosystem
By Ralph H Maestre
A little over ten years ago I participated in The Great Pollinator Project- NYC Bee Watchers along with many other individuals. This project was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, and the City of New York, Department of Parks and Recreation. Its mission was to see how many species of bees were found within the City limits. More than 225 species of bees live in New York City. They play a vital role in pollinating our green spaces, such as plants and trees. They help our small farms and honey production. More information can be found at www.nycbeewatchers.org. Biodiversity plays an important role in keeping our environment healthy and strong. We as pest control operators have to manage between protecting our homes and clients from harmful pests and not killing off beneficial organisms. Stinging insects pose a direct threat to us, yet in their natural environment help maintain a healthy ecosystem.
Magic Exterminating tries to maintain a delicate balance by removing or eliminating stinging insects that pose a threat and allowing to live the ones that don't pose a threat. What is the difference? Well, let me try to explain. First, we all need to learn a little about these insects.
Bees, wasps, and ants belong to the family group known as Hymenoptera. Most are beneficial as pollinators of flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables as well as honey producers, while others are parasites of other arthropods, including pest insects. Some are pest themselves, such as the stinging insects. Although they pose a threat to humans, these stinging insects are predators of flies and caterpillars. Many of these stinging insects are known as social insects, living in nests or colonies. They form caste systems where individual perform various roles or division of labor for the benefit of the colony.
In the eastern part of the United States - specifically Magic Exterminating's service areas of New York City and Long Island, yellowjackets, wasps, hornets, and bees are very common, and most people just call them bees. The general public only cares about the stinger. If you have knowledge of their behavior, they pose very little threat. The pest professional usually targets the nest for elimination.
The common paper wasp forms an umbrella shaped nest, they do not produce honey. They attach their nest to the underside of windows, behind shutters, gutter lines, or on the soffits of structures. The paper was queens is the only egg producer in the colony, if she dies, another takes her place. Her daughter takes the roles of gathering food, usually nectar, to feed the next generation of wasps. They have a complete life cycle of egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Only in the late summer and early fall are males produced, and the fertilized females find a hiding place under tree bark or in logs to wait out the winter and then the cycle begins again the next spring.
Paper wasp management is easy, removing old nests and removing ripen fruit around our structures reduce their activity in the area. Sealing openings around window and door frames or other penetrations point around our structures helps prevent them from entering. A pest professional knows when it is necessary to apply a pesticide to eliminate a nest.
Yellowjackets either form a nest in the ground or in voids. Old mouse burrows are a great place for them to start a nest. Most of us don't even notice a nest until it is large enough for them to start becoming defensive. Yellowjacket will form larger colonies than paper wasps. They are also more aggressive. The earlier the nest is found and eliminated the easier it is to control. Filling in opening around our structures helps reduce the chance of a nest being built in a void. To manage yellowjackets, clean garbage pails regularly and fit them with tight lids, do not leave out on tables or on the ground any ripe fruits, bakery sweets, soft drinks cans, candy wrappers, etc., empty cans and dumpster prior to any heavy human activity in the area, have lids on your drinks, and locate food sources and debris away from human activity.
Leave any pesticide application to a professional. The pest control operator has specialized bee suits to protect them while making the applications.
The Bald-Faced Hornet is another stinging insect commonly found on our structures. They make a large paper nest, sometimes the size of a basketball on the structure. These nests have guards on the outside waiting to sting any creature that may threaten the nest. The nest itself will have one opening near the bottom which the traffic going in and out of resembles and airport with planes flying in and out. A pest control operator will suit up and treat the nest, then removes them paper nest.
The giant hornet is rarely seen in and around structures. They make their nest in the hollow of trees. Since they do forage for food, human may encounter them sometimes. Human nature is to swat and any stinging insect, we must control our behavior since this is what causes them to react and sting us in defense.
Honeybees may be encountered on our structure in late spring as colonies split and several thousand move to find a new home. Sometimes they temporarily stop in a tree, on cars, a pole, or our homes while their scouts try to find a permanent home. Just stay away, if they don't move on a day or two, then call in a beekeeper. The beekeeper will remove the queens and relocate the colony. IF the colony has made their home inside the walls of our structure, the beekeeper will vacuum out the colony. It may become necessary to open the walls to remove the nest since the honey inside will soon rot and bring other unwanted pest insects.
Carpenter bees rarely sting since only the female has the stringer but may cause damage to facia boards and railings. A pest control operator will know where to find these individual nests and eliminate the carpenter bees from our structures. It may become necessary to seal the wood with metal or a thick lacquer to prevent reinfestation.
Ground dwelling stinging insects such as digger bees, diggers wasps, and cicada killers rarely sting human, but a are a nuisance since they can make several hundred holes in our lawns and scare us. Proper lawn care is the first step in reducing or eliminating them. A pest control operator knows the proper products and applications that may be needed to eliminate them. These pests are mostly a nuisance and pose very little threat to humans.
Stinging insect that form a social group such as yellowjackets, paper wasps, and bald-faced hornets are the one that pose the most threat in stinging humans. Non-social or semi-social stinging insects such as ground dwelling digger bees, digger wasp, cicada killers and others such as mud daubers and carpenter bees are far less likely to sting. Leave it to the professional to determine when it is necessary to remove or eliminate the insect.
Magic Exterminating is available to take care of all your stinging insect pest control requirements. Contact us today for a free on-site estimate.