Stinging & Biting Insects2021-04-01T17:55:28+00:00

Stings and Biting Insects

Honey Bee, Apis mellifera

Appearance: Their abdomens are striped yellow and brown. Hairy heads make their large compound eyes appear ringed with hair.

Habits: Honey stinging insects require an ample supply of flowers in their habitat, since this is their food source. They also need suitable places to build hives. In cooler temperate climates, the hive site must be large enough for the stinging insects and for storage of honey to feed on during the winter.

Diet: Honey stinging insects feed on nectar and pollen from flowers.

Reproduction: Honey stinging insects undergo complete metamorphosis: Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult

Other Information: Honey stinging insects have a sophisticated method of communication. Pheromones signal when the hive in under attack, help the queen find mates, and orient the foraging stinging insects so they can return to their hive. The waggle dance, an elaborate series of movements by a worker stinging insect, informs other stinging insects where the best sources of food are located. Click here for more honey stinging insect facts!

Bald-Faced Hornet, Dolichovespula maculata

baldfaceAppearance: Bluish-black with white markings on its face, thorax and abdomen. These large wasps are called bald-faced hornets, because of their white markings.
Habits: Bald-faced hornets are not true hornets at all; they are aerial yellow jackets. They construct paper nests made from wood harvested from logs and trees. The nest of the bald-faced hornet will take on a football shape, growing larger with time. Hornets will aggressively attack and sting any intruder threatening or disturbing the nest. Attacks usually do not occur until colonies get larger, beginning in July and running through the fall.
Diet: Consists mainly of other insects such as flies and stinging insects. Bald-faced hornets will also feed on their yellow jacket relatives.
Reproduction: Each year in the fall, a nest produces numerous queens that fly out to find a protected site to overwinter. The following spring, each queen finds a site in a tree or shrub to begin constructing her nest. She forms a small paper nest inside in which she builds a paper “comb” and raises her first brood of larvae. The workers that emerge begin foraging for food, enlarging the nest, caring for the young and defending the colony.
Other Information: Unless a person is somewhat allergic to insect stings, a bald-faced hornet’s sting is no worse than any other wasp’s despite its large size.

Yellow Jacket, Vespula spp.


Appearance: About 3/4-to 1-inch in length. Generally small wasps with black and yellow stripes.
Habits: Yellow jackets are social insects that live in colonies containing thousands of individuals. Colonies are usually started by a single queen in the early spring. By midsummer, a colony located on or near a house is large enough to become a nuisance. These wasps will aggressively attack when their nest is disturbed, and can inflict painful stings.
Diet: Consists mainly of sap, sweet nectar and other sugar products. Will also eat other insects such as flies and stinging insects.
Reproduction: Single queens will locate a hole underground in the spring and construct a golf ball sized nest of paper that is made by mixing wood fibers with her saliva. She lays eggs and cares for the grub-like larvae in the nest. The first generation of sterile female workers emerge in June and assume the care of the nest which allows the queen to concentrate on reproduction.
Other Information: Unlike the honeystinging insect, which stings only one time and then dies, a single yellow jacket can sting many times. They are responsible for about one-half of all human insect stings.

Paper Wasp, Polistes Dominula

Wasp with ParasitesAppearance: They are usually dark brown with yellow markings and can be up to ½  inch long.

Habits: Unlike yellow jackets and hornets, which can be very aggressive, paper wasps will generally only attack if they themselves or their nest are threatened. Since their territoriality can lead to attacks on people, and because their stings are quite painful and can produce a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction in some individuals, nests in human-inhabited areas may present an unacceptable hazard

Diet: Their diet also includes meat, plant and fruit juices, and honeydew, and one may observe them drinking water from a leaky faucet, puddle or other source. In recreational areas, they will forage in rubbish canisters.

Reproduction: Paper wasps undergo complete metamorphosis: Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult
Other Information: The paper wasp is sometimes called the “umbrella wasp” because their nests consist of a single exposed comb suspended by a narrow stalk.

Dog Tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus

Dog TickAppearance: May reach nearly 1/4-inch in length. After taking a blood meal, however, the female may measure about 1/2-inch or larger. Uniformly dark reddish brown with no markings.
Habits: Brown dog ticks do not confine themselves to dogs but will also attach themselves to many other animals and people. On dogs, adult ticks are typically found on the ears and between the toes. In Colorado outdoors dog ticks crawl up on grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation, then attaches itself to a passing host.
Diet: Blood; swell to a considerable size after feeding
Reproduction: Mating usually occurs while adult ticks are on the host animal; female hard ticks feed only once, and lay one large batch of up to 10,000 eggs; female soft tick will feed several times and lay 20 -50 eggs after each meal; eggs hatch in 19 to 60 days.
Other Information: It is known to transmit diseases to humans, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, human babesiosus, and human ehrlichiosis. In addition, the threat of bacterial infection is possible at the site of any tick bite, and, in rare cases, may even result in blood poisoning.

Cat Flea, Centocephalides felis

Cat Flea
Appearance: Black to brownish-black, about one-twelfth to one-sixteenth inch long; six legs, with many bristles on body and legs; flattened body.
Habits: Fleas are ectoparasites of animals, meaning they live on the outside of the body and need to feed on the blood of these animals in order to produce eggs. Fleas are found on cats and dogs year-round, but most common during warm and humid weather; readily attack and feed on humans; can jump as much as seven-eighth inch vertically, and 14 to 16 inches horizontally.
Diet: Blood
Reproduction: Female can lay about 25 eggs a day, and up to 800 eggs during her lifetime; fleas undergo complete metamorphosis, usually in 14 to 90 days.
Other Information: Carrier of many diseases; adults can live one to two months without feeding

Scorpion, Order Scorpionida

ScorpionAppearance: Range in size from 1 – 1/2 to three inches long; eight legs, a pair of large pinchers and a pair of small pinchers near the mouth; tail possesses a stinger.
Habits: Most active at night; during the day, they hide under bark, logs or stones; in houses, they hide in closets, shoes and folded clothes.
Diet: Small spiders and soft-bodied insects; will eat other scorpions.
Reproduction: Females produce an average of 32 young; young reach maturity in three to four years.
Other Information: Common in southern states (there are even scorpions in Colorado); most species deliver a sting no more harmful than a stinging insect’s; very poor eyesight; use pinchers as feelers.