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Wasp, Hornet, and Stinging Insect Control in Atlanta

Close up of a paper hornets nest with a few hornets around the entry hole

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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While most litters of squirrels are at least 4+ wks old by now, there are always a few late bloomers! If you suspect activity in your attic, give us a call for an estimate!
by Amber A.
Oct 27, 2021 09:59:04 am.

Ridacritter teams are all over Alabama and Georgia this week removing all kinds of critters from homes. The best way to get rid of rats, bats, squirrels & mice in Atlanta, Macon and Birmingham is to call Ridacritter.
by Richard Adcock
Oct 25, 2021 08:21:25 am.

In Warner Robins Ga. today finishing up a bat exclusion installing Ridge Guard on the ridge vents. Then I’m going to Mount Plesant Ga. for another exclusion quote.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 25, 2021 08:18:08 am.

Headed to Cropwell to look at a house with a squirrel problem in the attic. Got a big bat exclusion and removal job in trussville today. Mouse job in vestavia. Then back to Birmingham for squirrels.
by Chris Scott
Oct 25, 2021 08:16:14 am.

Been a busy day! From Birmingham to Mountain Brook to Vestavia. Lots and lots of squirrel calls. They are very active and very destructive.
by Chris Scott
Oct 21, 2021 02:20:17 pm.

Out here in Lizella Ga doing a animal exclusion on a home that has bats. Then we’re headed to Macon Ga to do a exclusion quote for squirrels.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 21, 2021 10:48:10 am.

Albany, Americus and Thomaston squirrel calls are on the rise. Scheduled them all today for exclusion quotes. Scratching noises in the attic prompted them to call. Call for your free quote.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 19, 2021 10:16:47 am.

Another busy day. Off to Tuscaloosa to quote a couple of clients who are interested in having their homes sealed to prevent rodent entry. Then to Mountain Brook for some squirrels in an attic.
by Chris Scott
Oct 19, 2021 07:55:58 am.

As we get ready for the cooler weather, so do they! Monday has started off with lots of “animals/noises in attic” calls!! Call your local RAC office for an estimate on humane removal & exclusion!
by Amber A.
Oct 18, 2021 08:44:48 am.

Beautiful week ahead for helping customers rid critters from their attics. If you live in and around Birmingham AL, Atlanta, GA Macon, Ga and you hear animals in your home call Ridacritter. We can get those rats, bats & squirrels out.
by Richard Adcock
Oct 18, 2021 08:10:23 am.

Busy Saturday @ Ridacritter. We accepted new jobs or rat, mice, bat and squirrel removal in Indian Springs Village AL, Macon GA, Acworth GA, Harpersville AL & Albany GA. Don't share your house or attic with nuisance critters.
by Richard Adcock
Oct 17, 2021 09:07:05 am.

Wanna know the best way to get rid of rats, bats, squirrels, mice, raccoons and rodents? Call Ridacritter of course. A+ BBB, TrustDale Cert & over 20 years in business. Critter removal from attics and complete animal exclusions.
by Richard Adcock
Oct 14, 2021 08:19:18 am.

Headed out to Pell City to do a couple of evaluations for rodents one client has some snake issues under the house the other flying squirrels. Then a little drive over to Crowell for a rat and mouse quote.
by Chris Scott
Oct 14, 2021 08:16:35 am.

Had a busy day today! Couple of customers in hueytown with squirrels in their attics. Went down to Pelham for another squirrel quote. Then finished out the day in Vestavia Hills for two more squirrel quotes. Lots of squirrels jobs today.
by Chris Scott
Oct 12, 2021 09:14:00 pm.

Good morning! I’m off to Leeds for a hornet’s nest. Then headed to vestavia for mice and snakes. Got a couple quotes in Birmingham for squirrels.
by Chris Scott
Oct 11, 2021 07:33:23 am.

Happy Friday! We’ve spent most of the morning getting calls about squirrels in the attic! If you’re hearing noises in the attic, give us a call for an estimate!
by Amber A.
Oct 08, 2021 10:44:38 am.

Good morning! I’m off to Bessemer Alabama. Got a customer with some squirrels in there attic. Then headed to Tuscaloosa. Roll Tide! Got a few quotes for mice and squirrels. Have a Good Friday. Everyone l!
by Chris Scott
Oct 08, 2021 07:30:02 am.

In Americus Ga quoting a bat exclusion job.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 06, 2021 11:08:51 am.

Rainy weather might stop us from wanting to go out, but not the squirrels, bats, or other rodents! If animals are getting into your home, give us a call for an estimate. We offer humane removal and full home exclusion services!
by Amber A.
Oct 06, 2021 08:06:31 am.

Valdosta bats and Americus squirrels has our crews in South Ga busy today.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 05, 2021 09:02:26 am.

Did you know a squirrels front teeth never stop growing? If they’re using your house as a teether, we can help! Call us today for a quote to humanely remove them and seal up your home!
by Amber A.
Oct 04, 2021 09:17:24 am.

Happy Monday! Looking forward to a great week.
by Richard Adcock
Oct 04, 2021 08:50:40 am.

Already a busy week lined up for next week. Squirrels, bats, rats from Valdosta all the way up to the Griffin.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 01, 2021 12:03:44 pm.

Happy First Day of October!! That means it’s getting closer to cool weather and the animals might seek a home in your home! Call us for a quote to animal proof your home!
by Amber A.
Oct 01, 2021 10:28:33 am.

We have a technician removing wasp nests from the roof overhang of a house in Atlanta. Calls for wasp and hornet removal in Georgia usually continue into October or November, depending on the weather.
by Webmaster
Aug 23, 2021 12:06:47 pm.

One of our Metro Atlanta rodent-control crews are on their way to a Fayetteville, Georgia rat-removal job. Norway rats gnawed through the garage door seal. We'll replace the seal and eliminate all the other potential entry gaps to make the house rodent-proof.
by Webmaster
Aug 09, 2021 11:07:54 am.

A homeowner was horrified to find a nest of rats in the attic of her house in Ellenwood. Rat control specialists from our Metro Atlanta office are on their war to remove the rats and rodent-proof the house.
by Webmaster
Aug 06, 2021 10:55:08 am.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
by Amber A.
Jul 23, 2021 06:29:58 pm.

We Found Bats on a Gable Vent Screen in the Attic of a House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Jul 13, 2021 09:33:02 am.

Today we're treating paper wasps in the attic of a house in Atlanta. The wasps aren't especially aggressive, but they're getting into the living area of the house. We'll treat the wasps' nests and replace the gable vent screen to keep them out.
by Webmaster
Jul 01, 2021 11:22:50 am.

Hope everyone stayed dry from the rain but if you got flooded with animals we can get them out!
by Amber A.
Jun 21, 2021 06:32:40 pm.

Here's a Bald-Faced Hornets Nest Attached to a House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Jun 21, 2021 09:29:50 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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