What’s the Buzz: Insects That Sting


When it comes to flying insects that sting, most Portland homeowners care little for classification. This is usually left to professionals who deal with pest control in Portland OR. However, there are some very distinct physical and behavioral differences between bees and wasps, and knowing these differences can help you keep your family safe.


Oregon is home to two main species of bee:

Honeybees have orange-brown coloring and are often mistaken for wasps, although they tend to have a thicker joint between their abdomen and thorax. They are usually found buzzing around flowers and typically only sting when provoked.

Bumblebees also prefer gardens, but their fuzzy bodies make them appear slightly larger than the average honeybee. They are mostly black in color with a few yellow markings, and like honeybees, they rarely sting.


Compared to bees, a wasp is much more slender. Its long black abdomen and thorax are both usually spotted or striped with yellow or orange markings. While most wasps don’t necessarily go looking for trouble, their habits do warrant caution.

Yellow jackets are known to be territorial and highly aggressive, chasing down anyone who gets to close to their nest. They will even sting several times if given the chance. Unfortunately, no area is off limits either; they nest in trees, buildings, and even underground. Because it’s difficult to distinguish yellowjackets from other wasps or even other bees, consider the nest’s location –if it’s on the ground, chances are you’re dealing with yellowjackets

Hornets can be found all over the Northwest and are just as aggressive as yellowjackets. The key difference is that they are noticeably larger and always nest above ground. Like their cousins though, they attack threats with repeated venomous stings.

As a homeowner, recognizing the differences between these summer flyers can help you decide on an effective battle plan. For more questions on identification or for help dealing with a dangerous infestation, get in touch with a local exterminator in Portland OR.

Share To: