Stinging Insects That Plague Cincinnati

Not only can you get welts and itching from bites of stinging insects, but those nasty little creatures can flare up allergies and damage houses in the Cincinnati area.

Michael Wedding
Michael Wedding

“There are a lot of health risks associated with stinging insects,” says Michael Wedding, technical director at Scherzinger Pest Control in Cincinnati. “It can be a surprise: All of a sudden when you get stung multiple times, but you just don’t know when you came across the insect or nest.”

Of course, in the cooler weather, you won’t come across a big nest of flying, stinging insects, he adds. In the winter, they are nesting and hiding in warm places. But watch out as spring hits. It can become a gathering bug storm. And when they get to a certain size at their peak season, stinging pests can be a big issue.

Wedding lists his top culprits that can sting and hurt humans, your property or both:

Yellow Jackets

These somewhat aggressive wasps start developing nests in the spring. They can nest in the ground and anywhere else where they find a cavity. “They get really busy starting to build up their nests in the summer,” Wedding says. “They are small, so you don’t really see them.”

He recommends being very observant in your yard and garden. By watching the flight pattern of the yellow jacket and finding where they are entering their nest, you can avoid that area and then call a pest control expert. “Their flight pattern is the exact same pattern each time. It’s a constant flow.”

Sometimes, gardeners take a shovel and plunge into soil. Suddenly, they’ll have a problem because of disturbing a yellow jackets’ nest. It can even happen when someone mows the lawn. Property owners need to go out and walk on all sides of their home and garages to check out if any nests have been built. When it gets into the warmer, summer months, they become much more active while looking for food. They grow to the size of a penny with black and yellow smooth bodies without hair or fuzz.

See related story: “How to Get Rid of Wasps, Yellow Jackets, Hornets

Bald-Faced Hornet

Bald-faced hornet
Bald-faced hornet. Credit: Marvin Smith, CC by SA 2.0.

These insects, which Weddings says are not really hornets but more like yellow jacket wasps, mature into a little bit bigger than a yellow jacket. They develop into the size of a nickel with black and yellow or black and white striping. “They make their nests out of fecal matter, saliva, dirt and debris,” he says. What fun.

Their nests start out the size of a golf ball in early spring. As the nest grows, it looks like a papier-mache object. You can see them in trees, on the side of a building, and around light posts or patio lights. Again, he encourages people to be observant before the nest gets large. They can be more aggressive than yellow jackets when disturbed. “If a bald face hornet’s nest sits in a tree 20 feet up, it probably is not a threat. But if it’s at ground level, that will affect the public.”

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bee
Carpenter bee. Credit: Judy Gallagher, CC 2.0.

The female carpenter bee drills holes into the wood – on the side of your home, porch, etc. – and lays her eggs inside the wood. The male does not have a stinger, but they protect the actual nests, Wedding explains. “You can end up having property damage. Most people will see remnants of them drilling through and see pollen and fecal matter on the side of house. It just looks like yellow gunk,” he says. That becomes your indication of a carpenter bee.

The male carpenter bee may act tough, but that really becomes just an act. “If you take a tennis racket and hit them, it’s not a big issue. They can’t sting you.” The females, however, can sting. These larger insects, the size of a nickel to quarter, can be recognized with furry yellow and black covering. One of the good things they do includes pollinating. “They do have a vital role, but they also have a danger to the public.”

Cicada Killer Wasp

These largest wasps in North America, according to The Ohio State University Extension, rarely sting humans unless someone touches one. The males can become aggressive and territorial, but they don’t have a stinger. As with the carpenter bee, the female has the stinger.

Wedding says the males swarm around the nests. Because of their large size, between 1-1/8 to 1-5/8 long, it can be intimidating to go out and mow or just enjoy your patio, he adds. Basically, they kill annual cicadas and lay eggs on top of the dead cicadas so their young have a meal when they hatch. They showcase with a clear, wiry look with orange and black colors. The extension adds that the females can cause unsightly mounds of soil while tunneling. Some may nest in sandy playgrounds, patio edges, flower beds or under shrubs.


People become repulsed just hearing that word. “They definitely can be an issue,” Wedding says. These biting bugs hitchhike into people’s homes, and they can spread easily, he adds. They don’t have a stinger. It’s more of a piercing mouthpiece. “They do need a blood meal to either pass from different stages of life or to lay eggs.”

Having bedbugs in one’s bed can definitely affect sleep for people. A rash or itching occurs. They do not transmit disease, but you don’t want the few of them in your house to multiply.

Lee Nelson

Lee Nelson

Lee Nelson, an experienced freelance writer and former award-winning newspaper reporter, writes for National Association of Realtors and many state Realtor magazines. She lives in Illinois with her high school sweetheart and loves cooking, swimming, traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.