Burr Pest Control Rockford encourages homeowners to brush up on facts about stinging insects


Summer and Fall are the most popular seasons to spend time outdoors, but it’s also the prime time for increased pest pressure, especially from stinging insects like wasps, yellowjackets and bees. Burr Pest Control Rockford, a pest management company servicing Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, urges homeowners to brush up on facts about stinging insects and prevention tips to avoid being stung this summer and autumn.

The Threat

The fear of a bee, yellowjacket or wasp sting drives many people to run away screaming, arms flailing about (a motion that is likely to further incite the insect rather than shoo them away) at the first sight of one of these insects. It’s understandable! Half-a-million people are sent to emergency rooms each year from stings. However, understanding what makes these more aggressive insects tick and how best to deal with the threat when it occurs can go a long way in ensuring people and pets stay safe while enjoying the outdoors.


“Stinging insects are aggressive during the warmer months because they are busy preparing their queen for the winter ahead,” said Brian Mitchell, Burr Pest Control Branch Manager. “They are often attracted to backyard barbeques and picnics, and frequently enter homes in search of food.”

Yellow Jackets


  • Nest in the ground or in hollow spaces like eaves and attics
  • Feed on sweets and proteins
  • Commonly invade outdoor activities, especially when food is present
  • Become more aggressive as colonies die off, except for the queen
  • Capable of stinging repeatedly
  • Responsible for sending over 500,000 people per year to the emergency room for allergic reactions to stings

Paper Wasps


  • Also called “Umbrella wasps”, they get their common name from the material their nests are made out of, which resembles papier mache
  • Eat nectar and other insects
  • Live in small colonies and are semi social
  • Paper wasps hang their comb nests from twigs and branches of trees and shrubs, porch ceilings, the tops of window and doorframes, soffits, eaves, attic rafters, deck floor joists and railings, etc.
  • Females seek nesting locations indoors as autumn cool weather approaches and prefer cathedral or very high ceilings
  • Not aggressive by nature, but will sting if disturbed or provoked
  • Reaction to a paper wasp sting is the same as other stinging insects

Bald Faced Hornets


  • Not a true hornet, but gets its common name for its large size and mostly black appearance with a white face
  • Social insects that live in colonies of 100-400 members
  • Appearing in late summer, they build large paper nests at least 3 feet off the ground usually in trees, shrubs, on overhangs, utility poles, houses, sheds or other structures that typically get to be the size of basketballs
  • Able to sting repeatedly
  • Stings carry venom, causing affected areas to swell, itch and burn in addition to the usual stinging insect reaction risks of allergies and anaphylaxis
  • Very aggressive and will attack if they feel threatened
  • Basically, these are super scary. Don’t mess with them!

Cicada Killer Wasps


  • Solitary insects
  • Very docile in nature
  • Females have a large stinger to inject venom into cicada prey
  • Do not have nest-guarding instincts like honey bees or other wasps
  • Found in areas with well-drained, light soil in direct sun where cicadas are harboring
  • Responsible for causing property damage when digging massive tunnels in which to raise their young

5 Facts About Stinging Insects

Here are a few facts about stinging insects from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a nonprofit organization committed to the protection of public health, food and property from household pests, to help homeowners protect themselves from stinging insects over the next few months:

  1. Stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room every year. They can swarm and sting in clusters or large groups, which can be life threatening especially for anyone who has an allergic reaction.
  2. Unlike some stinging insect species, wasps are known for their unprovoked aggression. A single colony of wasps can contain more than 15,000 members, so an infestation should not be taken lightly.
  3. Common nesting sites include under eaves, on ceiling beams in attics, garages and sheds and under porches. Some stinging insects can build their nests in the ground, including yellowjackets and velvet ants (which are actually a species of wasps). Over-seeding the yard provides more coverage and discourages these pests from nesting around the property.
  4. Painting or staining untreated wood in fences, decks, swing sets and soffits will help keep stinging insects such as carpenter bees out. Carpenter bees create nests by drilling tunnels into soft wood, which can severely compromise the stability of a structure over time.
  5. Only female carpenter bees have stingers. Female carpenter bees will only sting if threatened, but reactions to these stings can range from mild irritation to life-threatening respiratory distress.


“Homeowners should frequently inspect the property for signs of a stinging insect infestation and contact a pest professional if a nest is found. Attempting to remove a bee or wasp nest on your own can be extremely dangerous,” added Mitchell.

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