There are several different kinds of wasps that call the state of Tennessee home. Some are considered solitary wasps. These wasps can sting people; however, they typically use their stingers to hunt other insects. Social wasps, on the other hand, use their stingers as weapons to defend their nests. Even if you don’t mean to walk too close to a social wasp’s nest, you could likely still be stung. Within the state of Tennessee, four types of wasps are considered aggressive social wasps. These include paper wasps, yellow jackets, bald faced hornets, and red wasps.   


Paper Wasps  

Paper wasps¬†are ‚Äúvespid‚ÄĚ wasps, meaning they chew on dead wood and plant fibers. After chewing the material, they then mix in their saliva to create pulp for building their nests. Paper wasps get their name from the paper-like texture the pulp develops after it dries.¬†¬†

Due to their social nature, they’re especially aggressive toward people who wander too close to their nests. They vary in color, from red and yellow markings to black and yellow. There are three paper wasp species found in Tennessee, including:  

  • Red paper wasps¬†
  • European paper wasps¬†
  • Northern paper wasps¬†
Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp (polistes dorsalis)


 Bald-Faced Hornets  

Despite their unusual name, bald-faced hornets are considered wasps. Similarly, paper wasps use a pulp made of saliva and wood fibers to create their football-shaped nests. You can identify them by the ivory markings on their heads, abdomen, thorax, and legs.  

Bald-faced hornets are extremely aggressive and, like other social wasps, will sting you repeatedly if you disturb them or their nests. If you find a bald-faced hornet nest on your property, contact the professionals at U.S. Pest to remove it, as their nests can grow three times larger than a football.  


Bald Faced Hornet


 Yellow Jackets  

Yellowjackets are some of the most recognizable species of wasps, with their thick black and yellow striped abdomens. They build their nests in the ground and occasionally in rotten logs. Yellowjackets are considered by many pest professionals to be the most aggressive wasp species.  

Unfortunately, it is easy to disturb yellow jackets, as they don’t have a visible exterior nest like paper wasps. Mowing your lawn can turn into an extremely painful experience if you accidentally mow over a yellow jacket nest.  


Yellow Jacket


 Red Wasps  

Red wasps are a particularly aggressive paper wasp subspecies that deserves special attention and caution. As their name suggests, these wasps are red and grow as large as one inch. Like other social wasps, they live in large groups and build their upside-down-umbrella-shaped nests near areas that provide protection.  

Prime nesting areas for red wasps, unfortunately, often include backyards, roofs, and decks throughout Tennessee. They are also attracted to the loud noises, bright colors, and smells caused by humans. Additionally, leftover food from barbecues and backyard picnics will draw red wasps.  

While you may be tempted to remove a red wasp nest on your own to reclaim your backyard, it’s best to contact U.S. Pest. Red wasps build the largest nests in the wasp family, which means you have an even higher chance of being stung by this aggressive species.  


Red Wasp


Call U.S. Pest Protection for Wasp Nest Identification  

If you find a wasp nest in your yard or near your house, do not attempt to identify it on your own, as you could be stung. Call in professionals from U.S. Pest Protection for a free inspection and estimate to give yourself peace of mind and keep your family safe.   


Furthermore, For information on the different types of wasps in Tennessee, visit uspest.com.   


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