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A Guide to Stinging Insects in Missouri

wasp on hive

There are many stinging insects that call Missouri home, and for the most part, these are beneficial insects. Bees are vital for pollination and, while wasps can do some pollination, they are considered more beneficial in the ways they help to control plant-damaging pests like caterpillars. But, while stinging insects can be a benefit to us, they have the unfortunate ability to cause us harm as well. Here are a few of the stinging insects you may find on your Missouri property, and what you need to know most about them.

Paper Wasps

The most common stinging insect you'll find on your Missouri property is the paper wasp. These social wasps have a widespread distribution throughout the entire state. They vary in appearance, depending on the species, and can be yellow and black to brown, black, and yellow. Some species look like skinny yellow jackets.


  • Paper wasps make aerial nests on overhangs, arches, and eaves. This brings them into close proximity of humans.
  • Paper wasps are overwintering pests. For this reason, they will invade homes that have holes in screens, or entry points in siding, eaves, window frames, or soffits.
  • Paper wasps are social insects that defend their nests but are generally not aggressive on their own. When a paper wasp comes near, avoiding erratic movements can help prevent a sting.
  • Paper wasp stings can be quite painful and are capable of causing an allergic reaction. 

How to Get Rid of Them

If you come across a nest on your property, you should not approach it or try to take it down on your own. The more times you are stung by a paper wasp the higher the risk of serious allergic reaction, and when you approach a paper wasp nest, you are asking for trouble. It is important to contact St Louis pest control professionals to take care of wasp removal for you.

There are some ways that you can make your property less appealing to paper wasps and other stinging insects. One of the best ways to handle paper wasps is to be proactive and try to limit them and their interference with your outdoor activities rather than to try to get rid of them. Give these tips a try:

  • Keep food sources, including pet food, inside. If you are going to have food outside for a picnic or BBQ, be sure that their containers are covered appropriately and whenever not in use.
  • Keep your trash in covered bins and as far away from your home and used yard space as possible
  • Make sure any cracks and crevices in your home are sealed
  • Avoid wearing perfumes, and bright colors
  • Do not swat at them if they fly around you. Stay as calm as possible.

Yellow Jackets

Of all the stinging insects you can have on your property, yellow jackets are the worst. These are social insects that can swarm and give chase. They have also been observed going around objects to get to their target. But, this behavior is only one of many reasons these insects are a problem.


  • Yellow jackets are fond of meat. While they are not known to kill large animals, they scavenge carcasses and carry balls of meat back to their nest. This desire for meat can make a cookout particularly inviting to these pests.
  • Yellow jackets have a wide range of foods they will eat. This diverse diet will lure them to dumpsters, trash heaps, and trash cans.
  • Yellow jackets often build their nests in the ground and are aggravated by vibrations. This can cause them to swarm a lawn mower or other machinery.
  • Yellow jackets measure between 3/8 and 3/4 of an inch long.
  • They are typically black and yellow or black and white striped.

Carpenter Bees

Often mistaken for bumble bees, the carpenter bee has a similar furry yellow and black appearance. But, unlike the bumble bee, a carpenter bee will have an abdomen that is entirely black, and entirely hairless. This visual characteristic helps to easily identify these bees from a distance.


  • Carpenter bees are solitary insects. You don't have to worry about these bees swarming when you get near to where they are nesting.
  • Male carpenter bees are not able to sting, but they are known to fly menacingly at any creature they believe is a threat to their nest.
  • While carpenter bees are not a stinging threat, they are able to damage wood. Female carpenter bees bore circular tunnels in wood to make a home for their offspring. If these tunnels are left untreated, they can be used, and expanded on each year.
  • The damage carpenter bees do to outside steps and railings can pose a danger if these give way.

Sweat Bees

As their name implies, sweat bees are drawn to land on skin that is covered in a film of perspiration. There are around 70 species of sweat bee in the state of Missouri. Some species are solitary and some are social. The most notable visual characteristic of sweat bees is the metallic shade of green, blue, or bronze they have. If you have a nest of social sweat bees on your property, they could easily become a problem, especially on a hot day.


  • These bees are not usually aggressive. But they may sting if they feel their nest is being threatened.
  • Sweat bees usually only sting when they are accidentally pressed against the skin.

Mud Dauber

The mud dauber has many names: mud wasps, dirt daubers, organ pipe wasps, potter wasps, and more. There are several species of mud dauber in Missouri, but they all share one trait in common; they build their nests out of mud. The identifying characteristic of a mud dauber is its extremely thin waist.


  • These are nonaggressive wasps that only sting when pressed against the skin.​
  • Mud daubers measure between 3/4 of an inch and 1 inch in length and are long and slender.
  • They are usually black or metallic black/blue with pale yellow markings. 

How to Treat Stings

  • To relieve the pain of the sting, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen according to the proper doses. You may also want to try an antihistamine but make sure to consult your doctor before taking medication.  
  • Wash the site of the sting with soap and water to remove any dirt or bacteria.
  • Apply ice to the sting to help reduce swelling and further reduce the pain.

If you have any issues with stinging pests on your Missouri property, reach out to us. Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions services Saint Louis, Ashland, Fenton, Kansas City, Wentzville, Chesterfield, Springfield and their surrounding areas.

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