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There are three different types of wasps that we typically encounter in the Central Valley: yellow jackets, paper wasps, and mud daubers. The yellow jackets and paper wasps are social insects, capable of building very large, multi-celled nests, while the mud daubers are solitary insects building much smaller nests.

Yellow jackets: There are several species of “yellow jackets” that we encounter, the most common being the western yellow jacket (Vespula pensylvanica), commonly called “meat bees”. They typically build their nests in rodent burrows or other protected cavities such as voids in a house wall or ceiling. Yellow jackets defend their nesting sites very aggressively and may pose a serious problem when their nests are located near a home, play area, or picnic site. While bees have a barbed stinger, allowing them to only sting once, a yellow jacket has no barb on their stinger, allowing them to sting repeatedly. The proper treatment of nests in the ground can be very difficult. Aerosol sprays may not be adequate to properly treat the nest. Professionals, attired in protective clothing and bonnets, may need to power spray the nesting area with liquid insecticides to properly treat the nests. Insecticidal dusts may also be used to treat nests located in wall or ceiling voids.

Paper wasps: Most paper wasps are approximately one inch long with long legs and a very slender waist. They build their paper nests in protected areas such as under eaves, in attics, in dense bushes, and hollow pipes/tubes. Paper wasps are not very aggressive unless provoked. Over the counter aerosol wasp sprays work very well at killing adult wasps. Proper protective clothing should be worn to prevent stings. Treatment should also be done in the evening hours when temperatures are cooler and adult wasps are less active. Nests should be knocked down after all adult wasps are dead.



Paper Wasp


Mud daubers: These black and yellow solitary wasps have a very thin waist. They build their nests out of mud and attach to them to ceilings or walls. A single female wasp cares for each nest. The mud nests have cylindrical cells in them where the female wasp deposits a single egg and a dead insect to serve as food for the offspring. They do not defend their nests and rarely sting. Nests can be easily knocked down without spraying.



Mud Dauber


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