Family Outdoors

How to Handle Yellow Jackets, Wasps, Hornets, & Bees

Avoid painful stings and stay safe around stinging insects this summer

Does the sight of flying yellow insects send you into a panic? Have you had a summer barbecue where avoiding stinging insects eclipsed actually enjoying the event? Do you worry about the safety of yourself or your family when you see stinging insects buzz by?

The best way to avoid painful stings and enjoy the summer despite ever present stinging insects is to learn how to identify them and how best to handle each type. After all, these bugs play a very important role in our ecosystem. It’s thanks to pollinators like bees that we get to enjoy delicious fruits, beautiful flowers, and honey, but bees are often mistaken for more dangerous yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets.

Yellow Jackets

  • Black and yellow in color

  • 3/8 to 5/8 inches in length

Yellow Jacket

Typically attracted to meats and sweets, yellow jackets tend to swarm to the exact foods we often enjoy outdoors. While not aggressive unless threatened, yellow jackets can inflict a painful sting, and unfortunately for us, they can sting repeatedly. Yellow jacket nests are typically found in the ground, but occasionally might be in a tree, attic, or in other confined space. Please don’t try to remove a yellow jacket nest yourself. These pests are aggressive when defending their nest, and trust us, you don’t want a swarm of yellow jackets attacking you.

Interested in preventing these stinging pests? Learn about our yellow jacket prevention program here. Need a yellow jacket nest removed? Give us a call or send us a message here and we’ll get it taken care of.

Paper Wasps

  • Darker in color than most other stinging insects, brown and yellow

  • Long legs are a helpful identifier

  • 5/8 to 3/4 inches in length

Paper Wasp Side View With Nest

Paper wasps, named for the thin, paper-like material they build nests from, are very common in the pacific northwest. Paper wasp nests are normally small, and you may find them hanging from branches on fruit trees or shrubs, porch ceilings, or eaves. They’re sometimes referred to as “Umbrella Wasps” because nests often resemble the shape of an umbrella. Paper wasps are not usually aggressive, but can sting if provoked, so if you have a paper wasp nest in a high traffic area it might be best to get it removed.

Bald Faced Hornets

  • Bright white & black in color

  • 1/2 to 5/8 inches in length

  • Long, wasp-like body

Bald-Faced Hornet

While not as common in Oregon and Washington as other stinging insects, bald-faced hornets can be found. Bald faced hornets are fiercely protective of their nests, and very territorial. You’re most likely to find these nests on trees, poles, sheds, and in other exposed areas. Do not attempt to remove a nest by yourself, a trained professional with the proper safety equipment should be called to do the job.


There are over 20,000 different species of bees: honey bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees, sweat bees, are just a few. Bees are very rarely aggressive and play a huge role in our ecosystem as pollinators. Because of the work they do we can enjoy foods like fruits and see bright, beautiful flowers bloom each year. While they rarely sting, bees can sting if provoked enough so you should let them be if you notice them working in your yard. Because bees play such an important role and their populations have lessened, it’s best to leave bee hives alone whenever possible. If you have a bee hive, we do not suggest removing it, but if it is inside your home or in a very dangerous location a bee specialist can help you relocate the nest.

Are You Concerned About Stinging Insects this Summer?

If you have any concerns about stinging insects for your commercial business, home, or apartment community please contact Halt Pest Control at (503)-524-8548.