Wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera and are one of the most easily recognized pest insect in the world because of their association with painful stings. Even other species of stinging pests, such as bees or hornets are sometimes called “wasps” by those who have run afoul of them. The majority of wasps are parasitic and there is a wasp species that preys on almost every type of pest insect in the world, which makes them useful as a natural biological control agent. There are some wasp species that do not have stingers, but the species most commonly regarded as pests by humans are all equipped with stingers. The most prevalent pest species, the Yellowjacket Wasp, is common in almost all parts of the United States. Only the female wasp has a stinger, which is, in fact, a modified ovipositor.
Bees are related to ants and wasps, of the order Hymenoptera. They are known for the production of honey and beeswax, but there are actually very few species that produce the type of honey that humans most commonly associate with bee-hives. Not all bee species are social and there are some species that are solitary. There are over 20,000 species of bees described and it is speculated that there are a great many more that have simply not been classified. Bees are characterized by having a long proboscis, long antennae, two pairs of wings. Nearly every species of bee has a mite species associated with it. Honey bees are in a world-wide population decline.
Hornets are the largest type of wasp that has a complex social structure. They can grow to lengths of nearly three inches. Hornets are known for building large colony nests that have a distinctive honeycomb, chambered appearance. Hornets are mainly found in the Norther Hemisphere, with the European Hornet being the most common and well-known. They are an introduced species in North America and are not found in Western North America. Hornet stings are far more painful that ordinary wasp stings to humans because of the high concentration of actelycholine in the venom. There is a species of hornet, The Asian Giant Hornet, that is the most venomous type of wasp known and causes up to fifty-one hundred deaths a year. If a person is allergic to wasps, they will also be allergic to hornets. Hornets, also like wasps, emit a pheromone if attacked that alerts the nest to a threat and the entire nest can then swarm. This behavior is very dangerous, especially to those animals who are already allergic to the venom the hornet produces.