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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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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.

Bats have been pretty busy this week, Atlanta to dunwoody, over to sandy springs, did a quote this morning for snakes in commerce ga, good times
by Chris Collender
Sep 15, 2022 10:09:54 am.

Chad Sent a Video of Hornets' Nest Removal at a House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 09, 2022 08:18:47 am.

Was in Duluth this morning for bats, then off to watkinsville and Royston for u know, bats, now to Covington for rats
by Chris Collender
Aug 22, 2022 03:23:41 pm.

Yesterday, I was In peachtree city and then ellenwoood, for bats, then I drove lakemont and Cummings, snakes in the house.
by Chris Collender
Aug 16, 2022 07:43:26 am.

Snakes in the crawl space in carnesville ga, then off to Athens and conyers ga, bats are the attic. Now headed to villa rica for another wildlife quote
by Chris Collender
Aug 09, 2022 12:21:53 pm.

Busy day yesterday, was out in snellville for rats, then out to Bethlehem, Watkinsville and Athens all for bats
by Chris Collender
Aug 02, 2022 11:53:29 am.

Bats are flying high, was in Monroe twice for bats in the gables/house, then off to Kennesaw where the bats where in the freeze boards.
by Chris Collender
Jul 28, 2022 12:05:24 pm.

In Bishop ga, rats in a older home, next stop Athens ga, bats in the gables/ridge vents
by Chris Collender
Jul 19, 2022 09:31:22 am.

Busy day, bats in Hampton, then off to Greensboro ga, bats again, bats in loganville, and now off to squirrels in Buford
by Chris Collender
Jul 12, 2022 11:55:56 am.

We just sent one of our stinging insect pest control technicians to a hornet-removal job in Atlanta. The hornets built a nest under the soffit right at the peak of the roof. Our technician will kill the hornets and remove the nest.
by Webmaster
Jul 11, 2022 11:13:45 am.

We have a sting insect-control technician heading out to Atlanta to remove a hornets nest from the soffit of a house. Hornets are very aggressive wasps, making hornet removal a job for professionals.
by Webmaster
Jun 16, 2022 11:21:31 am.

We just sent a pet control crew to an Atlanta wasp-control job. Some wasps, like yellow jackets and hornets, are very aggressive and will attack humans who get too close to their nests.
by Webmaster
May 16, 2022 10:51:00 am.

Heading to a snake call in Griffin Ga.
by Jason Arruda
May 09, 2022 02:31:20 pm.

Bats and carpenter bees are flying , Hampton to Ellen, off to demorest, snakes in Hoschton.
by Chris Collender
May 05, 2022 08:49:43 am.

A gap smaller than a fingertip between the roof flashing and the fascia allowed yellow jacket wasps into the attic of a house in Atlanta. Our pest control crew will treat and remove the yellow jacket nest before the wasps make their way into the living area. Yellow jackets are aggressive wasps that are best treated by professionals.
by Webmaster
May 03, 2022 10:53:58 am.

Bats and carpenter bees are in full effect, From Rome, ga to Hampton, ga, then off to Atlanta. Busy times
by Chris Collender
Apr 28, 2022 11:15:13 am.

Busy critter day today, went to locus grove for some bats, Riverdale to get some squirrels, several Atlanta stops, of course rats, then ended in Marietta, rats again
by Chris Collender
Apr 11, 2022 07:25:46 pm.

Beautiful weather, bats are flying, and squirrels are breading, good times. Athens to snellville, over to Stone Mountain, then out to Atlanta
by Chris Collender
Apr 08, 2022 09:31:43 am.

Rain, rain go away, Chris C wants to do Some quotes today, Morganton(flyers), Carrollton(rats), College Park(raccoons), Brookhaven(squirrels)
by Chris Collender
Apr 05, 2022 02:15:46 pm.

Macon, Warner Robins, Perry and Forsyth Ga today bidding jobs and warranty services. Got crews all over south Ga as well sealing homes against bats and squirrels.
by Jason Arruda
Apr 04, 2022 02:12:52 pm.

Customer in Macon Ga.called in having issues with snakes entering her basement. Going out there now.
by Jason Arruda
Apr 01, 2022 10:28:59 am.

Mouse droppings in the pantry? Bats in the gables? Rats overtaking your living area? Squirrels nesting in your attic? Noises in the walls? Scratching noises coming from you attic? Snakes in your crawl space? We handle them all.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 31, 2022 04:29:56 pm.

Got critters? Squirrels, bats,rats, raccoons, birds etc. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee give a call for a free consultation.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 31, 2022 12:34:04 pm.

We have a yellow jacket control job in Atlanta today. The wasps got into the attic through a tiny hole at a roof junction, and the homeowner wants them gone before they wander into the living area. Yellow jackets are among the more aggressive wasps in Georgia, so it's better to get rid of them sooner than later.
by Webmaster
Mar 30, 2022 10:10:38 am.

Newnan this morning for raccoons, then off to sharpsburg for mice and down to Atlanta for rats.
by Chris Collender
Mar 29, 2022 02:15:53 pm.

Crazy week so far, bats and carpenter bees are in full swing, from Athens to Suwannee, over to Duluth then to Alpharetta and Atlanta. Now this morning, I am in conyers with rats and squirrels
by Chris Collender
Mar 23, 2022 10:48:04 am.

Busy day today. Leaving a Tifton Ga bat quote that we’re going to seal next week. Headed to Coolidge Ga for another bat quote. Droppings on the driveway got the customers attention and squeaky sounds coming from the attic. Give us a call.
by Jason Arruda
Mar 21, 2022 12:24:07 pm.

Another hornet-removal job just came in, this time in Atlanta. We're sending a pest control technician over to treat the hornet problem and remove the nest.
by Webmaster
Mar 17, 2022 10:51:47 am.

Yesterday was another busy day, Ellijay had some flyers, then to norcross for rats, Athens with grey squirrels and woodstock with bats and rats
by Chris Collender
Mar 16, 2022 08:03:54 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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