Murder Hornets, Wasps, and Bees: When Should You Call An Insect Exterminator?

Amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new threat has come to America’s shores: murder hornets! These 2-inch hornets typically hail from Asia and are known to kill up to 50 people every year.

Also known as the Asian giant hornet, or Vespa mandarinia, could potentially devastate the native bee population.

While so far these hornets have been confined to the Western shores of the US, right here in our own backyard of Delmarva, there are still wasps and bees to contend with.

Here are the differences between hornets, wasps, and bees, and when you should call an insect exterminator.

Differences Between Hornets, Wasps, and Bees


Hornets are actually specific types of wasps. They are typically a little rounder and fatter than the common wasp. Although they nest in the same way as wasps, hornets are known to be less aggressive than wasps if unprovoked.

Hornet stings are also more painful to humans than typical wasp stings because of the chemicals found in hornet venom. Unlike honey bees, individual hornets can sting repeatedly.

That’s because hornets and wasps don’t die after stinging as their stingers are not pulled out of their bodies.

An easy way to tell hornets and wasps apart is their brown, red, and yellowish-orange markings with a little black on their body.


There are thought to be more than a hundred thousand different types of wasp, with new species still being discovered. Wasps are carnivores and use their stingers to kill and lay their eggs inside their prey. Don’t worry though, as humans aren’t considered prey to a wasp.

This means that wasps can sting more than once, but as long as you don’t disturb their nest or swat at it by flapping your arms – it won’t sting you. You can spot a wasp by its bright yellow and black rings, defined waist, and tapered abdomen.

Aside from the new addition of murder hornets, traditionally there are three popular types of wasps that prowl the United States:

  • Paper wasps: Paper wasps construct open, exposed nests that most often resemble upside-down umbrellas.
  • Yellowjackets: Yellowjackets build nests that are covered in a papery substance and are often found within wall voids or cavities in the ground.
  • Bald-faced hornets: This species also builds papery-covered nests that can be located in natural cavities like tree stumps or cavities within buildings.

Wasps can be dangerous to the untrained. The two most widely available commercial insecticides – sprays and dust – can not be used for various reasons. Sprays are ineffective due to the distance from the nest to the entrance and commercial dust is legally only allowed to be used outdoors.

A licensed pest control professional can ensure that the wasps and hornets nesting inside of a wall are safely destroyed, after which the structure should be sealed up in order to prevent more wasps.


Bees are pollinators, spending much of their lives visiting various plants and flowers to gather and distribute pollen.

They also feed nectar and pollen to their developing young. There are almost 20,000 known species of bees, so how they look can differ quite a lot.

Their hairy bodies and flat legs are ideal for holding on to the pollen as they carry it from one area to another.

When a bee stings a human, its stinger becomes embedded in the skin which kills the bee – this means the chances of getting stung are very low unless the bee feels attacked.

When To Call An Insect Exterminator

While wasps and hornets have their purpose in hunting and controlling pest insects, their painful sting means that they can be a danger when they nest near or inside of homes. When faced with these nests, it is tempting to remove the nest immediately.

There are circumstances when this can be done safely.

There are also many circumstances where, for safety reasons, this should be done by a licensed insect exterminator.

If you’ve determined that the nest you discovered is too big for removing safely yourself, you need to call a professional.

A licensed insect exterminator like Rice’s Termite and Pest Control can ensure that the infestation is safely destroyed, as well as take preventative measures to prevent more bees from re-entering or re-colonizing the space.

If you’re concerned about bees or other stinging insects around your house, call our team today to learn more about our hornet and wasp extermination services.

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