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The Difference Between Bees, Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets

A yellow jacket nest.

That familiar buzz you hear every summer isn't just the AC kicking on during hot days—stinging insects are out in force during summer months around Seattle. But what kind of buzzers are invading your home? How would you know to be worried or not? Some stingers are good for your home and garden, but for others, it's best to call the professionals at Eastside for stinging insect control. Here are some tips on how to tell the difference between bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets around Seattle.


How to Identify Stinging Insects

There are four things to observe when trying to identify the stinging insect near your home:

  1. Physical appearance
  2. Behavior
  3. Location of nest
  4. Population number

Stinging insects near Seattle have distinctive physical characteristics that set them apart. They also behave differently from one another and build their nests differently. Lastly, bees populate areas in different numbers than wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets, and vice versa. These four criteria will help you identify the stinging insect near your home.

Bees: They're Good, Actually!

A bee pollinating an orange flower Honey bees and bumblebees are some of the most environmentally beneficial insects in the world. Their pollination of plants is vitally important to agriculture and ecological stability. But they also sting, so it's understandable to be wary of them! In fact, bees are unlikely to sting unless provoked and will leave you alone if you ignore them.

How to Identify Honey Bees

Honey bees are identifiable by their fuzzy appearance and attraction to flowers. They move somewhat slowly unless aggravated, tend to move individually as they pollinate, and won't swarm except around their nest. Bees typically nest in trees or under the eaves of a house, high off the ground.

At Eastside, We’re Bee-Friendly

Because of how important honey bees are to the environment, we do not treat for or kill honey bees. We will always contact a local beekeeper who is trained in safely removing the hive without disturbing the queen or colony, and relocating them to where they won’t harm humans.

Wasps: Everything Else

A wasp resting on a leaf`Technically, hornets and yellow jackets are just types of wasps. Whereas bees are herbivores, wasps are omnivorous and will eat meat, spiders, and other insects in addition to plants. Although wasps do help control populations of agricultural pests, in general wasps are far less environmentally beneficial than bees. Additionally, wasps are far more aggressive than bees and will attack humans for coming too close to their nests.

How to Identify Wasps

Wasps are much larger than bees, with clearly defined body sections and long wings. Generally speaking, wasps are much scarier looking than bees. One type of wasp common to the Seattle area is the paper wasp, so called because its nests look like paper. A wasp nest has open combs clearly visible from the outside.

Hornets: The Meanest of the Bunch

A black and white hornet on a tree Hornets, another type of wasp, are ones to look out for. These nasty buggers nest above ground and will aggressively defend their home. If you suspect a hornet's nest is near your house, stay away! Call Eastside Exterminators at 425-482-2100 and our highly trained professionals will handle all your wasp control needs.

How to Identify Hornets

Similar in size and shape to bees, hornets are distinguished by a smooth body and mostly black coloring. (The bald-faced hornet, common around Seattle, has a mostly white face.)

Yellow Jackets: The Most Likely to Sting You

A yellow jacket with its wings spread Yellow jackets are extremely common throughout North America. Yellow jackets are what you will typically see outside in the summer (aside from bees). They are aggressive and can sting multiple times, so keep your distance.

How to Identify Yellow Jackets

They are regularly mistaken for bees because of their shape and color, but the differences between honey bees and yellow jackets are obvious. As a type of wasp, yellow jackets also have smooth bodies with bright yellow coloring and long wings.


Call Eastside Exterminators for Stinging Insects

No matter if you can identify the insect or not, call Eastside Exterminators for your pest control needs. Our pest management professionals are experts at wasp removal, hornet removal, and yellow jacket removal—we will refer you to an expert beekeeper for bee removal. Call us at 425-482-2100 to schedule an inspection today!

Take the sting out of summer with Eastside Exterminators!

Contact us today!