Correctly identifing these pests will help in their extermination. Almost half a million people each year go to the emergency room with allergic reactions to stinging and biting pests. Stinging insects are generally more active in the summer and fall, when they are out looking for food sources to get them through the winter ahead.


The Bald-Faced Hornet is actually a wasp and is easily identified by its black and white markings (most stinging insects are black and yellow). These hornets construct an easily identifiable, pear-shaped paper nest that can grow to be quite large. While more docile than other yellow jackets, the Bald-Faced Hornet is extremely protective of its nest and will sting repeatedly if disturbed.


These large, furry, black and yellow insects can often be seen bouncing around the yard collecting pollen and nectar. Bumble bees are not aggressive and will only sting in self-defense. Their stingers are not barbed like a honeybee, so they can sting would-be predators repeatedly.


Cicada Killer Wasps can be formidable because of their large size, but rarely sting unless bothered. They nest in the ground, and their burrows can be found in many lawns. The adults feed on nectar while the larvae feed on the cicadas the adults bring back to the nest.


The common domesticated honey bee—not the feared “killer bee”—is a non-aggressive bee commonly found around Iowa. These black and yellow bees only sting when threatened, lose their barbed stingers and die when they do sting something. They are beneficial in the pollination of flowers and production of honey. Honey bees are one the few insects that remain active during the winter. While most adult insects die during the winter, honey bees metabolize their honey to prevent freezing to death.


The Paper Wasp is a slender, narrow-bodied insect with long legs. They range from reddish-orange to dark brown or black in color and have yellow markings on their abdomen. Their paper nest is umbrella shaped and has hexagonal cells that are left open and visible. Paper Wasp nests can often be found along eaves, window frames, porch ceilings, rafters, etc.


This species displays the same nesting characteristics as the Paper Wasp. The only difference between the two is the color—Red Paper Wasps are red!


The Red Velvet Ant or “cow killer” is not an ant at all, but a wasp. These black insects have red-orange hair on their thorax and abdomen. Females are wingless and pack a painful sting, while the males are winged but are unable to sting.


These nuisance pests are black and yellow in color. They build paper nests, usually underground, that can get as large as a basketball. They also nest in protected areas such:  trees and shrubs, sheds, porches, attics, wall voids, etc.  Yellow Jackets can be extremely aggressive and may sting repeatedly without provocation. The Yellow Jacket can commonly be found scavenging for human food at picnics, cookouts and around garbage cans or dumpsters.


These long, slender wasps are usually black with yellow markings, but some species may also have a metallic blue or black coloring. Easily identified by their thin, thread-like waist, Mud Dauber nests are constructed out of mud and are found under eaves, porch ceilings, inside garages, sheds, barns, etc. Mud daubers are solitary wasps and do not defend their nest, meaning stings are rare.