Western yellow jackets, a ground-nesting, social species, often nest in abandoned rodent burrows or wall voids. These insects are meat and sweets-scavengers. They gather food and return back to the nest to provide food for the rest of the colony. Their favorite foods include food wastes, insects and spiders. Surprisingly, only female workers have the ability to sting. Males, however, aren’t equipped with stingers. The males are quite alarming but harmless.
These insects are very protective of the nests they live in and will often sting any person or animal that might be threatening their colony. This is especially true late in summer, when the natural food supply begins to decline. People who spend time outdoors in this season are more likely be stung. Workers are often attracted by outdoor activities, such picnics, to search for food.
These pests are the ones that make aerial honeycomb nests out of paper honeycomb. Three of the most common species in Arizona are the Arizona paper wasp, yellow paper wasp and Navajo paper wasp.
Paper wasps do no sting their prey. They use their powerful mouthparts, which can chew through prey and give it to the larvae. Arizona is home to their spring activity. A single queen starts building her nest. Nests are found in many places around town, including on roof overhangs and ceilings. The only way paper wasps will sting is if nests are disturbed.
Tarantula wasps are among the most powerful. They are approximately 2 inches long, metallic blue black with bright orange wings. They might also eat nectar or other damaged fruit.
Tarantulas hawks have a different life cycle than other insects. Their eggs and immature predators are completely dependent on their mother to provide food. A tarantula is a hawk that stings and paralyzes prey rather than killing them. She then returns it to her previously dug hole in ground or, sometimes, back into the ground nest of a paralyzed tarantula. The tarantula Hawk pushes prey into the hole, then places one egg on it. The larva feeds upon the prey until the cycle ends. Because the prey is paralyzed and not dead, it serves as food until the next tarantula Hawk adult emerges.
Tarantulas hawks rarely pay attention to humans. You can get them to sting you if they are sufficiently agitated. Although their sting is temporary, it can be quite painful.
Arizona’s aggressive Africanized bee populations have grown dramatically. This hybrid bee species will defend its hives vigorously and relentlessly from being disturbed.
AHB colonies are social groups that include different types and functions of bees. These communities work together for the benefit of the whole colony. The queen, who is responsible for hatching eggs, and the workers who maintain, forage, forage, build and protect the colony members are the most important roles. Many AHBs nest within the walls, trees, or roofs. A hidden nest can be detected if the bees are seen moving in and around a wall, tree stump, stump, or roof through a small hole.
Arizona residents should consider any wild honeybee colony an “AHB” colony. Do not try to control honey bees alone.