5 Stinging Insect Nest Identification Guide

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There are many types of stinging insects. So, what are the 5 stinging insect nest identification guides? Although it is not always necessary to identify a stinging insect’s nest, it can be helpful in some cases.

Homeowners who can identify the nests of different types of stinging insects can do so from a safe distance. The following is a guide to identifying five common stinging insect nests.

How to identify stinging insects?

While there are many stinging insects, some more common ones are paper wasps, yellow jackets, and mud daubers.

5 Stinging insect nest identification guide - Types of Wasps and Insect Nests

To identify these insects, it is important to know their distinguishing features. For example, paper wasps have long legs and a thin waist, while yellow jackets are usually black and yellow with white markings.

5 Stinging insect nest identification guide

Paper Wasps Nests Identification

Paper Wasps Nests Identification

Paper wasps or umbrella wasp get their name due to the resemblance of their nests to an open umbrella. Paper wasp nests are open and exposed, making them susceptible to wind damage.

The paper-like material used to build the nest is very sturdy and can be difficult to remove once it has been attached.

Paper wasp nests are often open and can get quite large. They typically build their nests in tree limbs and shrubs but can also be found on buildings.

Yellowjackets Nest

Yellow jacket wasps leaving the nest.  The wasp nest is located in the ground, along the Avon River in Stratford, Ontario.

Yellowjackets are wasps that build their nests out of paper cartons made from cellulose. They can build their nests above ground in attics, or inside a building wall void, or underground. The underground yellow jacket nest entrance is typically very small and difficult to see.

Yellowjackets can wander hundreds of feet from their nest, so they cannot always be seen at first sight. Furthermore, yellowjackets will construct their nests in bushes.

Sometimes, they will make entrance holes near the base of trees or under steps where people frequently walk.

Mud Daubers Nest

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers build their nests in mud. They typically build their nests in sheltered spaces, such as under eaves or cracks and crevices.

Their nests are mostly mud, with some grass and other materials used to reinforce the nest. They can be found anywhere from rural areas to urban neighborhoods.

Bald-faced Hornets Nests

Bald-faced Hornets Nests

Bald-faced hornets are a type of stinging insect that build their nests out of paper. Their nests are aerial, meaning they hang off the ground. Bald-faced hornet nests are enclosed in a gray material of chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva.

These hornets build their nests at least 6 feet above ground in trees, attics, and wall voids. Nests placed at least 3 feet above the ground are less likely to be disturbed. 

Africanized Honey Bees Nest

Africanized Honey Bees Nest

Africanized honey bees, also known as “killer bees,” are a type of honey bee that was first introduced to the United States in 1957. They have nestled in unique places, such as tires, crates, tree limbs, utility poles, mailboxes, and overturned flowerpots.

Africanized honey bees, also called killer bees, are notorious for their aggressive behavior. Some people have died from anaphylactic shock after being stung by Africanized honey bees.

These bees are also sensitive to noise and vibrations, so any attempt to remove the nest will cause them to swarm.

How to identify solitary wasps nests and hornet nests?

Hornets have the largest nest and are often as big as a basketball. Paper wasp, mud dauber, and hornet nests differ in size, shape, material, and colony size. Paper wasps are umbrella-shaped, while mud daubers are cylindrical.

What bugs look like wasps but aren’t?

The hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus isolated on white background

Hoverfly is easily mistaken for a wasp because of its similar markings. There are over 270 types of hoverflies in Britain, and about 120 have the distinguished black and yellow markings of a wasp.

If you’re unsure what type of insect you’re looking at, it’s best to do some research or consult an expert.

What are flying insects that build nests?

There are a variety of flying insects that build nests. Most of these insects build their nests underground and are hidden away from view. The queen is at the center of the nest and has the sole duty to lay eggs and be tended to by workers.

How to identify insect eggs in the house?

The most common bed bug eggs are pearly white-grey in color and elongated ovals that only measure 1 millimeter long. The hinged cap at the front end of each egg opens up to create an opening for the newly hatched nymphs to come out of.

What different types of flying insects live on the ground?

Cicada Killer Wasps Species Nest

Cicada Killer Wasps Species Nest

Cicada Killer Wasps will build their nests, typically in soil or the crevices of rocks. The nests are about 70 inches deep and have several chambers.

Unlike other social wasps, female Cicada Killer Wasps do not rely on other colony members to help build the nest or care for the young. Instead, the female Dauber will place an egg in each tube she builds. Cicada Killer Wasps nests are typically found under eaves or in attics. 

Ants Species Nest 

Ants Species Nest 

Some species of ants will build mounds that are easy to see and may have a center opening. Others, like fire ants, prefer open areas but may build mounds in partially obstructed places like near fences or timber.

Another thing to look for when identifying an ant nest is whether there are any holes in the center. Finally, another way to identify an ant nest is by its texture. Mounds are usually loose piles of sand or dirt and lack an obvious entry point.

BumbleBee Species Nest

BumbleBee Species Nest

Bumble bee nests are smaller than honey bee nests and will only have a few hundred bees in the colony. They are usually built underground but can also be found in trees or other places. They will start to appear around spring as they’re preparing to mate.

Honeybees Nest identification

Honeybees Nest identification

There are a variety of stinging insects, and while they all can sting, honeybees are the only ones that typically nest in open places. If you find a honeybee nest on your property, it is important to contact a licensed pest specialist to remove it. 

Carpenter bee Nest identification

Carpenter bee Nest identification

Carpenter bees are named because they build nests in wood- like cedar and pine. These nests are found in homes, garages, sheds, and other outdoor structures. Carpenter bees are attracted to the color yellow and often nest near it.

Termites Species Nest

Termites nest

Different types of termites nest in different ways. Some, like subterranean termites, nest underground, while others, like drywood termites, nest within building structures.

Knowing how to identify the type of termite, you’re dealing with is important so you can address the problem properly.

How do wasps choose where to nest?

Wasps choose to build their nests in specific locations for a few reasons. One reason is that they want protection from the wind and rain. Another reason is that they like to be near food sources.

Wasps typically build their nests in eaves, porch ceilings, and overhangs because those areas provide shelter and easy food access.


Each stinging insect builds its nests in different shapes. Knowing the identifying features of a wasp’s nest can help you determine which type of wasp is nesting near your home.

The entrance hole is usually at the bottom of the nest, the cup part is attached to the eaves or roofline, and a cylindrical stem and honeycombs are inside. 

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.