Our home is our sanctuary. It is where we can escape the pressures that the world places on us. Home impacts our identity; nurtures our loved ones; and offers protection. So when ants invade our kitchen, mice scurry under a kitchen base cabinet, or bats enter our attic, our emotions kick in. It’s completely understandable for us, as homeowners, when we are faced with an infestation. Whether it is bees, ants, spiders, bats or mice we lose our emotional peace and wonder why we have these creepy-crawly critters in our living space.
But…there is hope! For those of you who have fought this problem for years with little success, “there is light at the end of the tunnel”. In fact, if you knew the sheer number of pests that lurk outside our homes you may be wondering why more critters have not invaded our sanctuaries.
I took this photo on a recent inspection, so let’s start with bees and wasps. They are flying, stinging insects commonly found in and around homes throughout the world. Stings from these guys are normally not serious, except for people who are allergic to the venom.
A few awesome facts about bees and wasps:
- More than half of all fruit and vegetable crops are pollinated by honey bees.
- Wasps contribute to the ecological cycle by preying on many insect-pests that are harmful to crops.
- Bees feed solely on pollen. Wasps, by contrast, are predatory and feed mostly on insects.
- While bees have robust, hairy bodies with flat rear legs, wasps’ bodies are slender with narrow waists connecting the thorax and abdomen.
- Wasps, especially yellow-jackets, are generally more aggressive than bees and they are more likely to come into contact with humans while in search of food. Stinging wasps can sting repeatedly, while honeybees will die shortly after stinging once. Other type of bees, however, can sting repeatedly.
Where do bees and wasps nest?
- Bees and wasps prefer attics because they are warm and protected. They will find it easier to enter and infest an attic that is covered by slate or wood roofing as opposed to metal or asphalt shingles. Poor flashing may also allow easy insect entry.
- Yellow-jackets typically nest underground using existing hollows. Occasionally, nests can be found in dark, enclosed areas in a building, such as crawlspaces, wall voids and attics. Nests are enclosed in a paper-like envelope, but they are rarely exposed or observed unless excavated. The nest entrance is small and inconspicuous. Colonies are readily defended because yellow-jackets will sting when the nest area is disturbed.
- Hornets produce large, conspicuous grayish paper-like nests in trees, shrubs and beneath building eaves.
Where nests are in close proximity to humans they pose a stinging threat. They should be destroyed. A good trustworthy exterminator should be called upon to do this. Not only should an exterminator be consulted to control stinging insects around your home, but they should be called upon to address evidence of mice, ants, termites, bats, and rodents.
A good exterminator will begin by meticulously filling all the possible entry points around the perimeter of your home. This should take several hours and possibly several trips to be done correctly. If your exterminator spends 30-40 minutes setting out some poison and fills one or two holes around your house, the job is most likely not complete. They will probably be called back to address the same problem. Ask your potential exterminator:
- What services are included for your stated fee?
- How much time do you typically spend on a job?
- What is your guarantee? (Anything less than one year is inadequate.)
Be aware that some exterminators will not do a thorough job to ensure that they have repeat business. A good job takes time – you pay for what you get.
A portion of this article is taken from Venomous Pests: Inspectors Beware – InterNACHI