What's The Difference Between Hornets & Wasps In Washington D.C.? 


When the summer months are here, it’s not surprising that pests become more of a concern for residents. Of the many types of pests present, none inspire as much dread as hornets and wasps in Washington D.C.

a wasp crawling on her nest

Did you know there is no difference between the two? Every hornet is a wasp. Some wasps are classified as hornets. In scientific terms, hornets are merely a subset of the wasp family. Let’s take a moment to identify some wasps common to the area:

  • Bald-faced Hornet: This hornet is black with a white pattern over its head. Their nests are most often found in trees, under eaves, or in chimneys. You may also find them nesting behind siding or in your attics and barns. This wasp is particularly aggressive. 

  • Eastern Cicada Killer: This is one of the largest wasps in the United States. It gets its name from its hunting behavior. They hunt for cicadas and feed them to their developing larvae. It’s important to note that only the females of this species are capable of stinging. 

  • European Paper Wasp: This rather small wasp is often mistaken for a yellow jacket due to its similar coloring of black and yellow. However, you can easily identify this wasp by its pinched waist or its upside-down, umbrella-shaped nest. Nests are often found under eaves or inside exterior lights and gas grills. 

  • Yellow jacket: One of the most famous wasp species, they are mostly black with some yellow markings on their body. They prefer to nest in the ground instead of up high like other species. However, they will also nest in attics or behind walls. 

  • Mud dauber: This large species of wasp is known for its metallic-like colors and narrow waist. They’re also known for their unique nests made out of mud and similar materials. 

  • European Hornet: While not as aggressive as the bald-faced hornet, this one will sting if their colony is disturbed. They generally prefer to nest in hollow trees, attics, and other secluded aboveground locations.

Hornet Problems Common To Homeowners

The good news is that wasps like flying long distances. This means that if you see a wasp or two, that doesn’t automatically mean there’s a nest nearby. It’s best to leave them be if they’re flying alone since hornets and wasps are known to be beneficial to the ecosystem. However, there are some signs to watch out for:

  • Fly near sheltered areas: This indicates they’ve built a nest and that they require further observation. 

  • Noticeable patterns: If you notice regular and continued behavior, it’s a sign that nests are in the process of being built. 

  • Old nests active: Wasps will return to previously built nests. If you notice such behavior, it’s possible you have an infestation on hand.

So long as the wasp isn’t part of a nest or there are no nests on the premises, you should be fine. Where the problem occurs is when there’s a nest, and it is especially bad if the nest is located in or near the house. Wasps are known to deliver painful stings. In some cases, their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in individuals who are allergic

Prevention Tips For Your Wasp Problem

Fortunately, there are ways to keep wasps from being attracted to your yard. We have gathered some prevention tips to consider:

  • Seal trash: Wasps and hornets are drawn to the smell of organic matter within your trash. Keeping the trash sealed will ensure wasps are less likely to come over. 

  • Pay attention to pet feedings: Some pet foods attract stinging insects. It’s best to carefully set feeding windows and to store the food in a sealed container when not in use. 

  • Fill in ground holes: While many wasps will nest in high spaces, there are some that are happy to develop nests in the ground. When there are holes in the yard, it is like putting out the welcome mat for yellow jackets. 

  • Remove standing water: Like most pests, wasps like to hang around standing water. Remove this source, and they’ll be less likely to invade.

Safe Removal With Capitol Pest

At Capitol Pest, we address your individual needs with customizable treatments to address an existing infestation or to establish preventative measures. With us, you can take back control of your yard this summer. Are you in need of wasp prevention services? Give us a call to speak with one of our agents about our professional wasp control options or fill out our online form to schedule your free inspection.

Tags: stinging insects | pest prevention | home pest control |

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