Stinging Insects of Late Summer

— Written By Donna Teasley and last updated by
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One of the signs of late summer is the surge of stinging insect calls that come in to the office. Wasps, yellow jackets and hornets all seem to get particularly hateful as deep summer moves toward fall. So, why does this happen? Well, it is a combination of several things-for one thing, their nests have grown larger as new bees hatch so there are more of them around. They are also more aggressively searching for food to keep the queen alive over the winter and because natural food supplies such as flowers and small insects dwindle towards the end of summer. Hungry bees become irritable bees and they turn to other food sources that are high in carbohydrates and sugars. Hence, the increased aggravation at picnics ballgames and other outdoor activities.

What can we do about the problem? Common sense is the answer. Keep drinks and foods covered when outside. Inspect the yard for signs of underground yellow jacket nests. Also look at house eaves and landscape plants for wasp and hornet nests. Turn off porch lights at night as hornets will fly towards light. Keep the lawn mown and weedy areas at a minimum.

Also be aware that there are many different kinds of bees, wasps and hornets but most are not aggressive and won’t readily sting. The Asian Murder hornet is not present in North Carolina or even in the eastern part of the country.

Try and steer clear of the more aggressive bees such as hornets and yellow jackets. And be patient. The first big freeze will take care of any nests that might be present. That’s one good thing about winter!