Locate nests for success with stinging insects


April 20, 2020

Noel McCarthy, VP Advertising, Noble Pine Products Co.

Noel McCarthy, Staff Writer, Sterifab

Entomologists tell us there are some 18,000 species of Hymenoptera — that is bees, wasps and ants — in the United States alone. Worldwide, there are an additional 115,000 types. So you’re excused if you can’t name each and every one of them.

Actually, most PMPs will tell you that identifying the wasp, hornet, velvet ant, etc., is not the main problem when answering a customer’s call to get rid of “those bees.” Finding the nest — or nests, if you’re really unlucky — usually is the most taxing and time-intensive part of the job. Remember, it’s always best to check the most common nest sites first. They include:

  • In and around tree branches (usually hanging and easy to see).
  • In and around fence posts.
  • Inside hollow tree trunks (a big favorite).
  • Under roof awnings (another destination of choice).
  • Within stacked wood (be careful as you move
    the logs).
  • Behind shutters.
  • Within play sets (especially if the kids have grown out of them).

Some stinging pests, like yellowjackets, nest underground, carefully hidden to avoid predators. If you take some time to watch the nest entrance, you’ll see the pest coming and going constantly. It’s a bit like watching an aircraft carrier in action, launching and capturing aircraft by the minute. But, if you’re having trouble finding the nest, look for the following:

  • Small holes in the ground, usually about the diameter of a pen. Hint: The entrance may be surrounded by a small circle of soil.
  • Cool, shady areas, especially under leafy trees or sun awnings.

When you do find an underground nest, keep these tips in mind:

  • Eradicate the nest after dark or just before dawn. The insects probably will be less active, and the nest will be full.
  • Wear the appropriate PPE.
  • Always bring a second person along, especially if you’re allergic to stings. Emulate divers, who always use the buddy system.


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