I have been stung by honey bees, bumblebees, wasps and yellow jackets but never by a hornet. I can not say that I regret that lapse in my education.
My earliest introduction to the world of bee stings was as a child. Like most children, I enjoyed going barefoot in the yard, enjoying the sensation of the cool, soft grass on my feet. That is, I did until I stepped on my the first honey bee, while frolicking in the lush patches of white clover in the yard. It did not take very many stings for me to decide that the pleasure of going barefoot was not worth the risk of multiple bee stings. I soon curtailed my barefoot frolics.
I often noticed nests attached near the porch ceiling that looked like small pieces of honeycomb. A brown wasp would be sitting on the nest. If I got too close, the wasp would attack me. They flew relatively slow, so usually I could evade being stung by running away or swatting the wasp with my cap. I was still stung several times. I always knew that the eye on the side of my face that suffered the sting would inevitably be swollen shut the next morning.
Mud Dauber Wasps
I have never been stung by a mud dauber. The Missouri Department of Conservation states that they can sting but usually only sting their prey to paralyze them. They do not defend their nests aggressively in the manner of other wasps. It is stated that it is a good idea to have them around, as they feast on black widow spiders. Mud daubers are a good alternative to black widow spiders anytime,
Docile as they are, they can cause an airplane to crash. On February 6, 1996, a German passenger jet was flying from the Dominican Republic to Germany. It crashed in the ocean, killing 189 people. Investigators determined the likely cause was a mud dauber’s nest in a pitot tube. The cause of the crash seemed to be that the pilots received false air-speed indications.
Bumblebees are markedly different in their behavior. They can fly much faster than wasps or yellow jackets, which considerably increases the risk of being stung. If you find it necessary to engage in combat with a family of bumble bees, a badminton racket makes a much more effective weapon than your cap. You will probably still get stung a time or two.
According to the laws of aerodynamics, a bumblebee should not be able to fly, but they do fly very well. Their ability to fly is due to the unique construction of their wings and very powerful wing muscles.
With bumblebees, I find that discretion is the better part of valor. I let them settle down, and I pour a little gasoline on their nest, which is often a hole in the ground. The vapor seems to kill them. Some people ignite the gasoline for good measure. The temperature of their wing muscles must be 86 degrees F. or higher before they can fly. Therefore, it is prudent to attack their nest on a cool night.
If you notice several bumblebees hovering under your eaves, you are probably mistaken. They are usually carpenter bees, which greatly resemble bumblebees. If you see them drilling half-inch holes in the wood under your eaves, they are certainly carpenter bees. They will later construct a network of tunnels inside the wood to provide accommodations for their future children. This causes damage to the wood, so most homeowners exterminate them or hire professional help.
According to Penn State University, the male carpenter bee cannot sting and the female has to be extremely provoked to sting. The males can still be intimidating when they perform sentry duty a few inches from your face.
Unless you have an allergic reaction, a bee sting is not usually a serious event. Learning the behavior patterns of various stinging insects will help you avoid future stings.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, exterminator or professional counselor of any kind. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not the purpose of this article to give professional advice. I am only relating my opinions and experiences and my opinions could be wrong. Any actions you take or do not take as a result of reading this article, you do so at your own risk. Always seek advice from a doctor before making any health care decisions and a licensed exterminator before making any pest control decisions.
“Carpenter Bees”/Penn State University
Tony Collins”/Crash One: Birgenair Flight 301″/Computer Weekly.com
“Mud Daubers”/Missouri Department of Conservation
“Can Bumblees Fly?”/Dandy Designs.org