Bee near white flower. Pioneer Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how to identify and prevent stinging insects.

Summer is officially here and the temperatures aren’t the only thing rising. This is also the time when we see an increase in yellow jackets, hornets, bees, and other stinging insects. These pests can quickly put a damper on your outdoor fun. Not only can they be aggressive, but they can also produce very painful stings.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about the common stinging insects in the Pacific Northwest, and how you can keep you and your family safe.

How to Identify Stinging Insects

Bees and wasps look similar and often confuse people, so which type of pest are you looking at? The short answer–bees are fuzzy and thick whereas wasps are sleek and thin.

  • Bees: Bees are a member of the Apidae family, which includes bumblebees, carpenter bees, honey bees, and more. There are over 5,000 bee species. Bees are fuzzy pollinators and although they can sting, they generally try to avoid people. These small pests can generally only sting once because their barbed stingers become embedded into their victim’s flesh.
    • Wasps: Wasps are a member of the Vespidae family, which includes yellow jackets, paper wasps, and hornets. Wasps are long, thin, and sleek and come in a variety of colors like orange, black, and yellow. While bees can only sting once, wasps can sting their enemies multiple times and will not hesitate to do so–they’re very territorial and aggressive. Types of wasps common in the Pacific Northwest include:
    • Yellow Jackets
    • Bald-Faced Hornets (not a true hornet)
    • European Hornet
    • Paper Wasp
    • Mud Dauber
  • Hornets: Hornets are a subset of wasps that aren’t native to North America, including the Asian Giant Hornet, also known as the Murder Hornet. Hornets are larger than wasps and will sting multiple times if provoked.

Another way to identify stinging insects is by their nests. Bees live in hives whereas wasps live in paper nests that they generally construct out of wood. This is why you commonly see wasps near playgrounds, fences, and decks. Wasps also build nests underground. So if you see a lot of wasp activity, but cannot locate a nest, it might be underground.

How to Keep Stinging Insects Away

Below are some helpful tips you can try to help keep stinging insects away.

  • Remove or cover sweet substances like soda, juice, and desserts
  • Repair damaged door screens and window screens
  • Repair holes in soffits
  • Maintain your yard to help prevent running into a ground nest
  • Plant wisely; stinging insects are attracted to pollen and nectar from flowering plants
  • Maintain your deck, fencing, and other wood structures
  • Avoid wearing sweet-smelling products like deodorants and perfumes
  • Avoid wearing bright-colored clothing
  • Hire a professional pest control company

Wasps can produce very painful stings, and in some cases can cause allergic reactions. If you have a nest on your property, you’d be wise to contact a professional. Pest control technicians have the knowledge, tools, and protective equipment to safely get rid of a wasp nest. For more information on bees, wasps, and hornets, take a look at our in-depth resource center.

Watch Out, It’s Stinging Insect Season! in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Serving Customers on the East Side:


Portland | NE Portland | Gresham | Happy Valley | Clackamas | Milwaukie | Mt Tabor | Belmont | Lloyd Center | Laurelhurst | Hollywood District


On the West Side:


Downtown Portland | Beaverton | Tigard | Hillsboro | Cornell | Sylvan | Cedar Hills


And in the Vancouver WA Area:


Downtown Vancouver | Fruit Valley | Hazel Dell | Felida | Cascade Park | Camas Washington