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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Large Red Wasps in Wood Pile

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Question
I do not know where their nest is. I have watched them come and go, and I do not know where they are coming from. I go out there to stack wood, and they come out of nowhere. I get stung a lot by them, and I don't want to spray wasp spray on my wood. What do I do?

Answer
Dear Kimberly - You do need to locate the nest somehow - it must be somewhere very nearby as these wasps usually will not show aggressive behavior unless they perceive an intruder as a threat to their nest. If the wasps primarily are red/reddish in color, they most likely are in the genus Polistes - see http://tinyurl.com/ka8kvls for an example. Their nests are open, facing downward, attached by a slender pedicel to some structure, man-made or natural, see http://tinyurl.com/nsevl4h for an example. If the wasps appears to have distinct yellow banding on their abdomen, they could be either Polistes or Vespula (yellowjackets). The latter can have either aerial nests that are fully enclosed (see http://tinyurl.com/q4wn6on for an example)or may be underground with only a small inconspicuous hole as its entry/exit (see http://tinyurl.com/onbkdkr for an example). And rather than spraying your entire porch, you could try using an aerosol spray designed for use against wasps that shoots out a very narrow 'jet' some 15 to 20 feet against individual wasps there.

Hope this helps,
Saugy  

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad

Expertise

Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.

Experience

21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Organizations
Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

Publications
American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

Education/Credentials
B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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