Summer in Maine is a beautiful time marked by blooming flowers, lush greenery, and unfortunately, the presence of various wasp species. Whether you’re enjoying a backyard barbecue or hiking through the state’s picturesque landscapes, it’s important to know which wasps you might encounter. This guide provides an overview of the most common wasp species found in Maine during the summer months.

Common Wasp Species

1. Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are one of the most frequently encountered wasp species in Maine. They are known for their distinctive nests, which resemble an upside-down umbrella made from chewed wood fibers and saliva, creating a papery appearance.

  • Appearance: Typically brown with yellow markings, though some species are reddish or even metallic in color.
  • Behavior: Generally not aggressive unless their nest is threatened. They are beneficial as they control pest populations by feeding on caterpillars and other insects.
  • Nests: Found under eaves, in attics, and on tree branches.

2. Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets are more aggressive than paper wasps and are known for their painful stings. They are commonly seen scavenging for food at picnics and garbage bins.

  • Appearance: Bright yellow and black stripes with a more robust body compared to other wasps.
  • Behavior: Highly aggressive, especially when defending their nests. They can sting multiple times and are attracted to sugary foods and drinks.
  • Nests: Often built underground, in wall cavities, or in dense vegetation.

3. Bald-faced Hornets

Despite their name, bald-faced hornets are actually a type of yellowjacket. They are known for their large, gray, football-shaped paper nests and their aggressive nature.

  • Appearance: Black with white markings on the face and thorax.
  • Behavior: Aggressive and will defend their nests vigorously. They prey on other insects, making them beneficial for pest control.
  • Nests: Typically found hanging from trees, shrubs, or buildings.

4. Cicada Killers

Cicada killers are solitary wasps and are one of the largest wasp species found in Maine. They are generally non-aggressive towards humans.

  • Appearance: Large, up to 2 inches in length, with black and yellow markings.
  • Behavior: Solitary and rarely sting humans. They prey on cicadas, paralyzing them and bringing them back to their burrows to feed their larvae.
  • Nests: Burrowed into sandy or loose soil, often in sunny areas.

Safety Tips for Dealing with Wasps

To minimize the risk of wasp stings and encounters:

  • Avoid Wearing Bright Colors and Strong Fragrances: Wasps are attracted to bright colors and sweet smells.
  • Keep Food Covered: When dining outdoors, keep food and drinks covered to avoid attracting wasps.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: Clean up food scraps and garbage promptly to reduce attractants.
  • Stay Calm: If a wasp approaches, remain calm and move away slowly. Swatting at them can provoke an attack.

Understanding the different wasp species in Maine can help you stay safe and appreciate the role these insects play in the ecosystem. While some wasps can be a nuisance, they are also important for controlling pest populations. Always exercise caution around nests and consider consulting a pest control professional if you encounter a wasp infestation.

For more tips and information on dealing with wasps, follow our page and stay updated with our latest posts. Enjoy your summer in Maine, wasp-free!