There are some 25,000 species of wasps. Many of them are beneficial as pollinators or beneficial in reducing the population of other insects that can be harmful. A few of these wasp species are troublesome in the state of Texas.
Yellow jackets have a distinct black and yellow coloration. They are very social and live in large, well-established colonies with well-established roles. Yellow jackets are carnivorous for the most part, eating other insects and the carcasses of other animals. They will also drink nectar, soda and other fluids that are sugary. These wasps are the pests that will invade your picnic, golf game and any other fun-filled outdoor activities because these areas almost always provide them with exactly what they’re looking for; food and drinks. Yellow jackets typically build their nests underground, in hollow trees or any other void they discover. Their nests are almost always hidden in these voids, with the entrance far away from the void opening. This can make extermination difficult. Yellow jackets can become very aggressive and inflict multiple stings that are painful. If they feel that the colony is in danger they will attack. For this reason, yellow jacket control should be handled by professionals. The warmer Texas climate allows a colony of yellow jackets to live for several years with numbers reaching several thousand. These large numbers make controlling them dangerous.
As aggressive as yellow jackets can be, bald-faced hornets are among the most aggressive wasps found in Texas. They are stockier than yellow jackets and almost all black in color with white or pale-yellow markings. They build nests out of paper that can number in the hundreds or thousands. There are always two to three hornets positioned outside the opening of the nest to detect any threats. Hornets are pests that make even the pros nervous because they won’t wait to feel threatened and will attack without warning. If the hornets standing guard signal the rest of the colony for any reason, the entire colony will attack. They will sting multiple times with stings that are more painful than those from yellow jackets. Anyone stung will need medical attention even if they aren’t allergic. Removing hornets is not a DIY job. If professionals are nervous dealing with them then you certainly shouldn’t attempt it.
There are many paper wasp species. They vary in color, the way they act and how aggressive they can be. The one thing they do have in common is how they build their nests. They use paper that they make themselves. These nests can be found on window and door frames, in hollow fences and PVC furniture. They also like to build nests on playground equipment. They are the least aggressive of any other wasps but are still considered harmful as they too can inflict multiple stings if they feel their nest is in danger. Paper wasps are very active in the spring and will swarm around higher structures looking for a spot to build their nest.