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Are you Seeing Ground Bees?

Posted by: Cooper Pest

When thinking of a bee’s nest, most people automatically picture the nest hanging from a tree or the side of a building. However, 70% of the 20,000 bee species actually nest underground! The most common types of ground “bees” in the northeast are Mining or Digger bees. Similarly, there are some wasps that are also ground-nesters such as Scoliid, or Digger wasps, Cicada Killer Wasps, and Yellow jackets just to mention a few. 

Mining (Digger Bees) 

Unlike Honey bees, which they are often mistaken for, Mining bees are solitary and nest in burrows underground. Rather than forming long-lived colonies in a single, well-protected nest controlled by a queen bee, each female digs her own burrow to rear her young in. These burrows are typically found in banks but can also be in level ground as well. It is not uncommon to see a small mound of dirt surrounding the opening of the nest.

Mining bees range in size from that of a Honey bee to a considerably smaller bee. The larger bees are furry and darker than Honey bees while some are brightly striped, and others are a shiny metallic green color. These bees are not aggressive and will rarely sting. In fact, these bees are extremely beneficial since they are very important to the population of a wide variety of plants. Furthermore, burrowing doesn’t harm vegetation and can be of service by overturning soil. Lastly, their activity is very short lived, lasting only 2-4 weeks. That being said, it is typically not necessary to take action against them. Should control be requested, insecticides can be used to reduce their activity.

Scoliid (Digger Wasps) 

Scoliid wasps are about 5/8 inch long and are a blue-black color with black-purple wings. They also have two yellow strips, one on each side of their hairy abdomen that is covered with reddish hairs. They are typically seen flying around the lawn during the day until early evening and normally won’t attack humans. They are parasitic in regards to grubs by helping to considerably control beetle grub populations. Similar to Mining bees, these wasps are very beneficial, pose little threat, and typically do not require treatment.

Cicada Killer Wasps

Cicada killers are about 2 inches long, mostly black, with pale yellow markings on their abdomen and resemble large yellow jackets. Despite their ominous appearance, and resemblance to large hornets, Cicada killers are very unlikely to sting, even when provoked. Their sting is meant for the paralysis of their prey and usually doesn’t even cause a reaction in humans. 

Once again, these insects are very beneficial since they help reduce cicada populations. On the downside, they may cause lawn damage if there are large numbers of them nesting closely to each other. Large numbers may also occasionally nest in sandy embankments as well.

It is challenging to eliminate Cicada killer activity, but chemical treatments applied to nests will help to reduce the activity of the females. Having a dense lawn and dense coverage in planters, in addition to letting grass grow a bit taller in July and August will help deter Cicada killers.

Cooper offers Cicada killer treatments, which can be performed as either a one-time service or as part our Home Intensive Service plan. A skilled technician will treat the holes where the Cicada killers have laid their eggs to reduce the activity of the female Cicada killers. However, this treatment will not stop male Cicada killers from flying in the area. If you would like to learn more about Cicada killers, please click here.

Yellow Jackets*

Yellow jackets are a type of social wasp that lives in large colonies with up to 4,000 workers. They typically have a yellow and black head/face and striped abdomen. They are most active in late summer/early autumn and can be found practically anywhere people are. They build paper carton nests from chewed up cellulose and commonly nest in cavernous voids located in the soil, but will also nest within wall voids or attics of people’s houses. In the fall, yellow jackets are predominantly scavengers, showing up at outdoor events with food, around garbage cans, dishes of dog/cat food outside, and anywhere there is ripe or overripe fruit. They can come in rather large numbers and are known for their aggressive behavior, and repeated stinging, making them a serious health concern. 

*To remove an active yellow jacket, wasp, or hornet nest, click here to conveniently order service online.

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If you have a bee problem at your NJ or PA home, please give Cooper a call at 1-800-949-2667. To learn more about our bee removal and wasp prevention services, please click here.

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