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Wasp, Hornet, and Stinging Insect Control in Atlanta

A few hornets around the entry hole of a paper hornets nest that will be treated and removed by a pest control company.

There are more than 100,000 species of wasps, all told. The ones mentioned on this page are just the few that we encounter most often in the Metro Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

Many people refer to all stinging insects as "bees", but that's not quite correct. Wasps and bees are related, but only distantly. Like true bees such as honey bees and carpenter bees, wasps are members of the order Hymenoptera, which also includes ants. But that's where the relationship ends.

One of the things that differentiates bees from hornets and other wasps is that bees make honey and wax, but wasps don't. On a practical level, that means that it's usually not strictly necessary to remove wasp and hornets' nests once they're treated. When the nests are exposed (as is usually the case with paper wasps, mud daubers, and hornets, for example), we do remove the nests because they're unsightly. But when the nests are inside an attic or a wall or ceiling void (as is usually the case with yellow jackets, for example), we typically don't remove the treated nests unless the customer requests it. Most customers don't because removing a wasp's nest that's inside a wall or ceiling void would require cutting holes through the Sheetrock, which simply isn't worth it if the nest is dead and doing no harm.

Wasp species vary greatly in their habits, appearance, and aggressiveness. Some wasps, like many paper wasps, are relatively passive and won't bother you unless you bother them, even if you're in close proximity. Others, like yellow jackets, will readily attack in great numbers if you get too close, but usually won't bother you if you keep your distance. And then there are the hornets, who are very unpredictable. They'll often attack en masse if you so much as look at them funny.

What this means from a practical standpoint is that unless you're really sure what kind of wasps you're dealing with, do-it-yourself wasp control probably isn't something you should try. Some wasp species can put a serious hurting on you if you happen to rub them the wrong way. So be safe. Call us instead.

Let's look at some of the more common stinging wasps found in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.

Baldfaced Hornets

Baldfaced hornets nest in a tree in Atlanta

A baldfaced hornets' nest in a tree in Atlanta

Baldfaced hornets are stocky, predominantly black wasps with white or pale yellow markings. They build paper nests that usually are suspended from or attached to trees, porch ceilings, power lines, and other objects. They also are, by far, the most aggressive of our Georgia wasps, and are very unpredictable. You might walk past the same hornets' nest every day without them bothering you; but then one day they change their mind, decide that you're a threat, and attack you.

When hornets attack, they do so in great numbers, and their stings are intensely painful. They also can cause severe swelling and anaphylaxis. Even people who aren't particularly sensitive to insect stings may need medical care after being attacked by a large number of hornets. That makes hornet control a pretty poor choice for a do-it-yourself project.

It's hard to say with any certainty why hornets are so unpredictable. One possibility has to do with the sentries. Hornets' nests always have two or three individuals who are assigned to fly around right outside the nest and keep a watch for dangers to the colony. These sentries work in shifts, and it may be that some sentries are more easily alarmed than others are.

European Hornets

Top view of a European hornet

European hornets are common in Atlanta and throughout Georgia

European hornets are larger than baldfaced hornets and have a loud, frightening buzz. They have large heads and beautiful coloration consisting of dark orange with yellow and black markings.

Unlike baldfaced hornets, European hornets usually build their nests in hollow trees or other protected void areas, so you're more likely to see the insects than their nests. You might smell their nests, though, especially when they're built inside a home. Their droppings have such a strong and unpleasant odor that it's sometimes necessary to remove the nests from interior wall and ceiling voids just to get rid of the odor.

Despite their size, loud buzz, and horrible stench, European hornets are less aggressive (or at least more predictable) than baldfaced hornets. If you keep your distance, they usually keep theirs. But when they do attack, they do so with gusto; and their stings are very painful.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jacket wasp

Yellow jacket wasps are common in Atlanta and throughout Georgia

The term "yellow jacket" is a generic one that's applied correctly to a number of different wasp species, and incorrectly to many more. The yellow jackets we get in Georgia are usually various species in the genus Vespula. The one in the picture on the right happens to be Vespula germanica, which is also referred to as the European wasp (which is not the same insect as the European hornet) or the German yellow jacket.

Yellow jackets build nests out of paper, and those nests can get quite large -- as big as several feet across in some cases. They usually build their nests in protected void areas like hollow trees, wall voids, roof soffits, attics, abandoned cars and trucks, and other such areas where they think they'll be left alone. Very often, the visible entry holes are quite far from the actual nest.

Compared to our other Georgia wasps, yellow jackets rank roughly on the same level as European hornets in their degree of aggressiveness, which is to say that they usually won't bother you if you keep a respectable distance from their nest. But if you get too close for their liking, they will attack in great numbers, and their stings are very painful.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps on a nest

There are many species of paper wasps common in the Atlanta area

There are many, many species of wasps referred to as "paper wasps," all of which build nests out of paper. They usually build them in semi-exposed areas such as the undersides of window frames, soffits, and so forth, so the nests are covered on top but otherwise exposed. Some species build their nests flat against the surface, while others build nests with narrow "petioles" that hang from the surfaces they're attached to.

Some paper wasp species are loosely social. Their colonies are quite small in numbers compared to most other social wasps, with some "colonies" consisting of only one adult female and her young. Other paper wasp species are solitary, but commonly build nests near nests of other wasps of their specie (yet without any evidence of cooperation between the adjacent nests).

Most paper wasps are not especially aggressive, but they will attack if they feel threatened. How much is takes to make them feel threatened varies from specie to specie, however. Some species are very territorial, while others are more easygoing. Either way, if they do sting, their stings can be very painful.

Cicada Killers

Cicada killer wasp

Cicada killers are large, solitary, soil-dwelling wasps that prey on cicadas.

Cicada killers (sometimes called "lawn wasps") are among Georgia's largest insects. They have very similar coloration as yellow jackets and are often mistakenly described as "huge yellow jackets" by non-professionals. They have an interesting life cycle that is also the reason for their name: A female cicada killer catches and paralyzes a cicada, drags it into her nest (a hole in the ground), and lays an egg on the cicada. Within a day or so, the eggs hatch, and the larvae eat the cicada.

Male cicada killers can be very intimidating because they fly aggressively, make a loud buzz, and sometimes even head butt you if you get too close to their mates' nests. But the males have no stingers, so it's all for show. All the males can really do is annoy you a bit. They also are very territorial with regard to other males and can often be observed fighting each other.

Female cicada killers do have stingers, but they're fairly passive insects who usually don't sting unless you do something dumb like stick your finger into their nest hole. And really, who can blame them for that?

Other than being annoying (especially when present in large numbers), cicada killers are disliked primarily because of the damage they do to lawns. Being very large, the holes they make in a lawn are very visible.

Digger Bees

As their name implies, digger bees are true bees (as opposed to wasps) that make nests in the ground. They can do extensive damage to lawns.

Because they can be present in very large numbers, digger bees can be very intimidating. They are not very aggressive, however. They will sting if they're threatened, but otherwise pretty much ignore people.

Metro Atlanta Stinging Insect Gallery

Here are some pictures of wasp, hornet, and other stinging insect work we've done in and around Metro Atlanta.

 

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A Ground-Level Gap in the Brick Wall Makes it No Wonder this House in Kennesaw, Georgia Needs Norway Rat Control
by Webmaster
Jan 26, 2023 10:10:27 am.

Started off in Rome ga, raccoons in the crawl space, then headed to Atlanta, ga, rats in the attic
by Chris Collender
Jan 05, 2023 11:48:37 am.

Happy New years, back at it, started off in Conyers ga, squirrels, then headed to Stone Mountain ga, rats in the attic, now In Gainesville ga, bats in the house
by Chris Collender
Jan 02, 2023 11:16:26 am.

Here's Wishing All of You a Merry Christmas from Rid-A-Critter!
by Webmaster
Dec 23, 2022 12:56:04 pm.

Rain rain go away, i need to quote some houses today, started off Snellville ga, squirrels have chewed several new holes, paid 2 companies to do patch work , never works long term, why she called us, we will give her a permanent solution
by Chris Collender
Dec 20, 2022 12:54:00 pm.

Beautiful day but Baby, it’s cold outside. Started the day in Athens ga, rats, then headed to Brasselton, ga, rats, then headed over to Oxford, ga, squirrels. Good times
by Chris Collender
Dec 19, 2022 12:42:44 pm.

Back in conyers, ga today, seems to be busy over here, flyers in the attic, headed to Ellenwood, ga, square
by Chris Collender
Dec 16, 2022 09:53:13 am.

Beautiful day, had 2 stops in Dacula, ga. Rats and squirrels, headed to conyers, ga. For another squirrel job.
by Chris Collender
Dec 15, 2022 12:15:22 pm.

Busy day in the rain, had two quotes in Alpharetta ga, flying squirrels in both homes, headed to Athens ga, squirrels in the attic.
by Chris Collender
Dec 14, 2022 12:45:29 pm.

Quoted a rental property In Atlanta ga, rats, them headed to Athens, ga, mice, then off to Snellville ga, squirrels in the attic
by Chris Collender
Dec 13, 2022 12:33:01 pm.

Finally no more rain, headed to Decatur ga, rental property, rats, headed to Monroe, ga, squirrels in a house, then back to Atlanta ga, rats
by Chris Collender
Dec 12, 2022 03:51:16 pm.

Good day yesterday, other then the rain, started off in Dawsonville ga, rats, then headed to Lawrenceville ga, flyers, then headed to Atlanta ga, rats
by Chris Collender
Dec 07, 2022 10:01:04 am.

Rainy day, started out in Duluth, ga, snakes found in the house, then headed to doraville ga, squirrels again, then 2 stops in Atlantic ga, rats. Busy day
by Chris Collender
Dec 05, 2022 03:25:03 pm.

Glad the rain stopped yesterday, we stood in Atlanta, ga. rats and squirrels, then headed to Duluth ga, squirrels again, then to Marietta ga, rats. Another good day
by Chris Collender
Dec 01, 2022 07:20:51 am.

Happy thanksgiving to all, it’s back to work, was in Decatur ga, rats, to off to McDonough ga, rats again, the headed to Douglasville ga, for grey squirrels, then I just left Carrollton ga, bats in attic
by Chris Collender
Nov 28, 2022 12:25:45 pm.

The management, staff, and logo animals of Rid-A-Critter wish all of our customers, suppliers, and Web site visitors a Happy and Save Thanksgiving holiday. Happy Thanksgiving from Rid-A-Critter
by Webmaster
Nov 23, 2022 10:05:14 am.

Cold day yesterday, started in Cedartown ga, squirrels in the soffits, had them last year, he tried to fix it himself last year, didn’t work. Headed to Mableton ga, squirrels again, then 2 stops in Marietta ga
by Chris Collender
Nov 22, 2022 08:21:48 am.

Rainy day, started off in Cleveland ga, bats in the ridge vents, then headed down to Atlanta ga, rats in the basement, then off to Douglasville ga, squirrels chewing holes threw customers shingles
by Chris Collender
Nov 15, 2022 03:36:15 pm.

It’s a cold Monday, was out in Monroe ga this morning, customer has had a constant issue with squirrels, then out 3 jobs in Atlanta ga, rats rats rats.
by Chris Collender
Nov 14, 2022 11:51:04 am.

Busy day yesterday, started off in Hoschton ga, rats, then out to a rental property in Atlanta, rats, then to Jonesboro ga, rats, then up to Athens ga, squirrels, good times.
by Chris Collender
Nov 10, 2022 10:19:13 am.

Was out in ellijay ga today, rats in crawl space, then headed to Hiawasse ga, flyers in attic, in Athens ga now, raccoons in a house
by Chris Collender
Nov 08, 2022 11:38:20 am.

Did a quote yesterday in Watkinsville, ga bats, and a quote for snakes, different houses, then off the Athens, ga snakes in a crawl space, has mice too. Then over to Covington, squirrels in the attic
by Chris Collender
Nov 03, 2022 09:32:16 am.

Was in Sharpsburg ga, squirrels are chewing threw the shingles to get into the attic, then off to Fayetteville ga, bats in the attic. Headed to Duluth ga, squirrels chewing threw the roof junctions and now in Atlanta ga, for rats
by Chris Collender
Oct 31, 2022 01:43:13 pm.

Went to Rome ga, squirrels for years, then off to Stone Mountain ga, previous customer new house, squirrels again. Headed to Bishop ga, guess for what, squirrels. Seems like theme
by Chris Collender
Oct 26, 2022 01:29:38 pm.

Back at in, was in McDonough ga for squirrels and presences of bats, off the Athens ga for squirrels in a metal roof, over to Gainesville ga, previous customer, we sealed his other house, has flyers in his new house, now headed to Atlanta
by Chris Collender
Oct 24, 2022 01:35:08 pm.

Another busy day, Conyers ga for birds, then to peachtree city ga, bats/rats , headed to Atlanta ga and then to Decatur. Good times
by Chris Collender
Oct 21, 2022 03:14:28 pm.

Beautiful day today, was in Bremen ga for bats, then off to Fairburn ga for squirrels, up to Atlanta ga for rats, headed to Brookhaven ga for another quote, not sure the animal just yet
by Chris Collender
Oct 11, 2022 12:57:50 pm.

Busy day, quoted rats in doraville, then Cummings, rats and squirrels, then headed to Covington, he has had issues for some time, squirrels with several chewed wires
by Chris Collender
Oct 04, 2022 12:55:50 pm.

I was in Big Canoe this morning, rats in the crawl space, then out to Douglasville for flyers in the attic, headed to Forest park for rats in a rental property
by Chris Collender
Sep 27, 2022 11:02:03 am.

Was in hiawassee for Bats, then Suches for rats, Suwannee for squirrels, and then Atlanta for rats again
by Chris Collender
Sep 22, 2022 12:56:25 pm.

Was in winterville this morning for mice, then to blairsvile for flyers, then Cummings ga for rats. Headed to Marietta for some bats, busy day
by Chris Collender
Sep 20, 2022 01:41:02 pm.

Atlanta job this morning, flyers in the attic, then headed to Decatur, rats in the crawl space
by Chris Collender
Sep 19, 2022 09:33:06 am.

The Atlanta, Georgia office of Rid-A-Critter provides stinging insect control in all of Metro Atlanta including the City of Atlanta and the communities of Berkeley Lake, Buckhead, Cartersville, College Park, Conyers, Decatur, Douglasville, Duluth, Dunwoody, Fayetteville, Hull, Johns Creek, Kennesaw, Lithonia, Loganville, Mableton, Marietta, McDonough, Newnan, Norcross, Peachtree City, Powder Springs, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, Stone Mountain, and Vinings. We are fully licensed and insured.

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