Steve Tvedten's "The Bug Stops Here"
Copyright and Disclaimer
Located at:

Table of Contents



The insects considered most beneficial to humans are found in the large insect order Hymenoptera. Not only are the bees and many of their relatives pollinators of flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables, but thousands of species of small wasps are parasites of other arthropods including pest insects. Without these parasites that limit the growth of insect populations, pests would overtake most of our crops. Volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons are not species specific. They kill everything, including all the beneficial insects - and maybe you, your family and pets.

The urban pests of the order Hymenoptera are the stinging insects. Although the first image to come to mind implies danger to humans, these yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps sometimes serve our interest: they feed their young largely on flies, spiders and/or caterpillars. But, in 1990, 32,662 small animals in the U. S. required a trip to the vet after being stung by bees or wasps. In 1988, the Federal Center for Disease Control in Atlanta reported 34 human fatalities due to known wasp or bee stings. About 100,000 U. S. citizens are stung yearly by wasps or bees. The majority of stinging victims suffer normal reactions to the venom, such as pain and swelling. A smaller number of people will be hypersensitive to the venom and can suffer a fatal anaphylactic shock reaction.

Many of these stinging insects are social. They live in colonies with a caste system or a division of labor and overlapping generations - all offspring of one individual reproductive. Some of these colonies persist: for many years (ants, honey bees) and others, like stinging wasps, start anew each year.

wasp.jpg (10272 bytes)

In parts of the United States, particularly in the eastern states, yellowjackets, wasps, hornets and bees are all called "bees" by the general public. Of course the general public is principally focused on one attribute these insects have in common - their stingers. If stung, try a little fresh squeezed onion juice or a meat tenderizer paste or diluted enzyme cleaner and/or see a doctor.

Knowledge of the behavior of these pests is essential to their management; effective communication with frightened or, at best, fearful occupants is an important skill you must develop. Nests of stinging pests are usually the target for control. Understanding nesting and the make-up of the colony is essential.

How to avoid being stung: Bee-ware!

  1. Do not cook or eat or drink outdoors during yellowjacket season.

  2. Do not wear light blue, yellow, and/or brightly colored and patterned clothes or bright flashy) jewelry.

  3. Do not wear scented talcs, perfumes, colognes and other scents, including scented hair spray, suntan lotion, sunscreen, cosmetics, deodorants and shaving lotions.

  4. Do not sit down on or handle wet towels, washcloths or clothes without first checking to make sure no yellow jackets are drinking the moisture.

  5. Do not carry sugary or meat snacks in open containers.

  6. Do not drink soft drinks from open containers. Use a glass or a lid and/or a straw.

  7. Do not hit or swat at bees or yellowjackets. Squashing a yellowjacket can release a chemical pheromone (alarm) that signals other wasps and yellowjackets in the area to come attack you. Yellowjackets will not usually sting or bite a person at rest, if they or their nest have not been disturbed or threatened by a person's swatting or by the quick movement of their arms or legs. They may land on your skin to inspect a smell or even to get water if you are sweating heavily, but they will leave of their own accord if you stay calm and do not move quickly. If you lack the patience, you can brush them off gently with a piece of paper as long as you move slowly and deliberately.

  8. Do not walk directly into the flight paths of these stinging insects.

  9. Do not go barefoot, especially through vegetation.

  10. Do not shine a flashlight or cast a shadow on the nest at night. Use a red light.

  11. If a bee or wasp enters your moving car, pull off to the side of the road and stop, if possible; open the windows and safely let it fly out and leave by itself.

  12. Wear proper safety protection, not only during treatment/control but also during inspections.

  13. Wear gloves when picking up rocks, timbers and firewood. Use a rake to move debris and mulch.

  14. Don't vibrate, hit, move, touch or make any unnecessary movements around the nest.

  15. Activities, e.g., running, screaming, and flailing only agitates wasps and bees.

  16. Final Note: If you have any sensitivity to insect stings, you should never attempt any control activity. Bee-Careful!

General Control Notes - Since bees, yellowjackets, hornets and wasps are all considered to be beneficial insects, control should only be done where there is an imminent threat to people or their pets. These insects can (when provoked) inflict a painful, venomous sting and/or bite. Some people are so sensitive to the venom's complex amino acids, proteins and enzymes they develop severe allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis and may even die without an injection of an antidote. Africanized bees (or killer bees) can and do kill normal people during an attack frenzy that can include hundreds of stings. If the killer bees attack, run away in a zig-zag pattern. Remove or cover all garbage, dropped fruit, soft drinks, pet food and other protein and sugar food sources. Routinely clean all dumpsters, garbage cans and spills, then routinely clean or spray with diluted Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint and/or borax. If you spray stinging insects with 1 oz. per quart of Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint, they generally die within a few seconds, or simply vacuum them up. Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint (1 oz. per quart of water) will kill them all on contact and also has a "fumigant" action.

  1. Wear protective clothing. Spills and dumpsters should be cleaned up regularly with Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint and borax. Never caulk an active nest/hole. Plastic barrier tape can be used to cordon off active infestations to protect children from "investigating" the infested area.

  2. Spray any visible stinging insects and nests with Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint (1 oz. per quart ). Spray paper wasps with soapy water to make them "drown." Use a hose-end sprayer filled with dish soap to flood and remove wasps, hornets, mud daubers and their nests. You can also spray them with rubbing alcohol. Bee careful.

  3. Secure the sucking end of a vacuum by their nest opening at night. If you use a rinse-and-vac fill it with 3" of soapy water; if you use a dry vac, add 1 teaspoon of talcum powder or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. If their nest opening is over 1", make it smaller. Turn the vacuum on before dawn and let it run until dark. Repeat as needed. Only after the nest is emptied should you caulk the opening. Duct tape, copper mesh, spackle, caulk, hydraulic cement and screens are exclusion materials that should be used abundantly. Vacuums can also be used to quickly and safely remove stinging insects from inside the building. Bee careful!

  4. Make 2-liter wasp traps by cutting off the top (where the bottle begins to curve up), invert it into the bottle (like a funnel), duct tape the edges, add 2" - 3" of Blue Hawaiian Punch or sweet orange pop (add 1", make it smaller.some hamburger if needed) and set out or hang from trees and facias wherever you see stinging insect activity. You can also make a good bait with a mixture of fruit juice and beer. Once inside the beer gives off its CO2 which is heavier than air and pushes the air out. The CO2 in the trap quickly suffocates the stinging insects. You can also use carbonated fruit juice to get the same result. Sticky window fly scoops or fly paper or glue boards in window casings will often catch individual stinging insects as they fly to the light of the window. Turn off all but one light or darken all windows but one and vacuum them up. Bee careful!

  5. Dust ground nests at night with talcum powder or Comet® or medicated body powder or food- grade DE and/or soak them thoroughly with diluted Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Pepper- mint (1 - 2 oz. per gallon of water) with a hose-end sprayer at night. Cover them at night with a clear glass bowl or piece of plate glass and leave covered for 2 weeks until they die. You can also "fumigate" ground nests (at night) with 5 lit charcoal briquettes that create carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide is heavier than air and will kill the underground nest. Bee careful not to get stung or to start a fire! An alternative, safer fumigant is dry ice; the CO2 is also heavier than air. Bee careful!

  6. Rinse empty dumpsters with a hose then spray diluted Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint to the point of run off and double bag and securely tie all trash. Install strong fans to literally blow yellowjackets away. Spray the clean dumpster with diluted borax (1-1/2 cup per gallon of hot water). A garbage can with a domed, fitted top with vertical swinging doors will keep yellowjackets away from the garbage.

  7. At night (with a red light) inject aerosol foam insulation into the entire nest if it is in a tree cavity or in a log or in an exterior wall void.

  8. You can "fumigate" ground nests with carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide.

  9. Never seal any nest site entrances until you are sure all activity has ceased.

  10. Make sweet liquid baits with 5% food-grade DE or borax in honey or molasses and place the baits out of reach of children and pets in yellow caps or dishes.

If you still have stinging insects, &read The Best Control© or The Best Control II© on CD-ROM.


Nontoxic Products Recommended by Steve Tvedten

Now Available

West / Central East
Safe 2 Use Safe Solutions, Inc.