Wasp, bee and hornet identification

Print Article

  • Photos by DON BARTLING Bald faced hornets. Hornet stings are more painful to humans than typical wasp stings, but hornets are known to be less aggressive than wasps if unprovoked.

  • 1

    Bees are generally easy to spot because of their golden coloring and the tiny hairs all over their bodies which make them appear “fuzzy.”

  • 2

    Yellow Jacket wasps. You can spot a wasp by its bright yellow and black rings, defined waist and tapered abdomen.

  • Photos by DON BARTLING Bald faced hornets. Hornet stings are more painful to humans than typical wasp stings, but hornets are known to be less aggressive than wasps if unprovoked.

  • 1

    Bees are generally easy to spot because of their golden coloring and the tiny hairs all over their bodies which make them appear “fuzzy.”

  • 2

    Yellow Jacket wasps. You can spot a wasp by its bright yellow and black rings, defined waist and tapered abdomen.

If you’ve just been stung by a buzzing winged insect, like I was last summer, the last thing on your mind are the variations in anatomy, behavior and diet of bees, wasps, or hornets.

It seems that there are a lot of wasps, bees and hornets around this summer. Their presence is partly due to the summer heat causing fruit and flowers to ripen early. If you saw a yellow and black striped insect flying around the garden, would you know if it was a wasp, bee, or a hornet?

They look similar but they’re very different in terms of where they live, what they eat, and how likely they are to sting you.

Here’s some tips to help you tell the difference next time you spot those black and yellow stripes flying through the air.

Wasps

Wasps are carnivores and use their stingers to kill and lay their eggs inside their prey. (Before you worry … humans aren’t prey to wasps!) This means that wasps can sting more than once, but as long as you don’t disturb their nest or swat at it by flapping your arms-it generally won’t sting you.

Wasps make their nests out of small pieces of wood, which they chew to a pulp and spit out to build walls. This forms a texture similar to paper. You can spot a wasp by its bright yellow and black rings, defined waist and tapered abdomen. Only female wasps can sting!

Bees

Bees are flying insects that collect nectar pollen to make honey. They live and store their honey in complex hives made from wax, also known as honeycomb. There are many varieties of bees, so how they look differs quite a lot.

Bees are generally easy to spot because of their golden coloring and the tiny hairs all over their bodies which make them appear ‘fuzzy’. When a bee stings a human, its stinger becomes embedded in the skin, which kills the bee.

Hornets

Hornets are specific types of wasp and are usually a little rounder and fatter than common wasp. Although they nest in the same way, hornets are known to be less aggressive than wasps if unprovoked.

Hornet stings are also more painful to humans than typical wasp stings because of the chemicals found in hornet venom. Individual hornets can sting repeatedly, unlike honey bees. That’s because hornets and wasps don’t die after stinging as their stingers are not pulled out of their bodies.

An easy way to tell hornets and wasps apart is by the hornet’s brown, red and yellowish-orange marking with little black on the body. Some hornets can grow to be a whopping 2 inches in length.

Enjoy Boundary County, but watch out for the stinging winged insects!

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Bald-faced hornets preparing for fall

September 19, 2019 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald “I may think that hornets do not have an ideal social organization. But I know better than to poke their nest.” — Fred Reed This past weekend I was traveling along U.S. Forest Service Road 2491 in ...

Comments

Read More

Taking fall in stride ...

September 19, 2019 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald At first you seem to notice, that there may be a slight shortening of days, then the increased traffic and activity that comes with harvest, and the gathering and storing of fruit for the winter, and...

Comments

Read More

Evening grosbeaks: Magnificent but elusive

September 12, 2019 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald Last weekend I was scanning the ponderosa pines surrounding my bird feeders when some unfamiliar birds caught my eye. I reached for my Nikon with my 600 mm lens to take a picture of the birds. Sudden...

Comments

Read More

Quaking aspen: Trees in the breeze

September 05, 2019 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald “Willows whiten, aspens quiver, little breezes dusk and shiver.” — Alfred Lord Tennyson Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) grow in Boundary County and is the most widely-dispersed tree in North...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 267-5521
Po Box 539
Bonners Ferry, Id 83805

©2019 Bonners Ferry Herald Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X