Yellowjackets (Vespula and Dolichovespula genera)
Yellowjackets are about 0.5 inches’ long and their nests consist of multiple combs surrounded by a paper shell.
Like all wasps, yellowjackets prey on a wide range of insects however they also hunt for foods that have been previously consumed by humans, especially sweets and meats.
It is recommended to remove or disassemble their nests if around human activity because if their nest is disturbed they will aggressively protect their colony by stinging.
Hornets (Dolichovespula maculate)
Hornets (Dolichovespula maculate) are about 0.7 inches’ long and are black with white markings.
Their nests usually are within the size of a basketball and they are covered with material that is a grayish color with a paper like texture. These nests are primarily located in a shrub, tree, or under the drain of a building.
Baldfaced hornets are particularly beneficial because they feed on other insects. They are seldom a threat to humans as their nests are usually in trees.
Mud dauber wasps (Sphecidae)
Mud dauber wasps (Sphecidae) vary in size from 0.5 to 1.25 inches’ and have very slender waists.
Uniquely, Mud dauber wasps build their nests in areas which are sheltered. These nests are shaped as tube like cells which are usually positioned side by side.
Female Mud dauber wasps are known for stocking their nests with spiders and insects that she has stung into paralysis. After she lays a single egg on her prey that particular cell is closed and she starts work on the next cell.
Mud dauber nests are often near human habitation and even though they are beneficial to humans, they can be enough of a threat to warrant their removal.
Cicada killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus)
Cicada killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus) range from 1.5 to 2.0 inches’ long. These particular wasps have a brownish black coloring with yellow markings on the face and abdomen.
Even though the size of these wasps can be intimidating they will only sting humans if they are pinned against their skin. The only damage that these wasps cause is the unattractive dirt piles that they dig out to create nests. Due to Cicada killer wasps being beneficial, control efforts are neither advised nor warranted in most cases.
Paper wasps (Polistes)
Paper wasps (Polistes) are about 0.7 to 1.0 inches’ long and have a slender shape. These particular wasps have a red, brown and yellow outer coat.
Paper wasps are not as aggressive as hornets or yellowjackets when defending their nests; however, their nests should be a concern if they are located near human activity.