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When it comes to flying, stinging pests in your backyard, chances are that your gut instinct of yelling ‘bee!’ isn’t accurate. There are many different types of pests in the Hymenoptera family including wasps, bees and ants, though the most common type of backyard pest that you are most likely to find in Toronto and across the Greater Toronto Area are yellowjackets, bald faced hornets & mud daubers. It’s important to note that there is a variety of wasps that have similar appearances in Ontario, and the best way to know what pest you’re dealing is by contacting a wasp control expert.


Appearance –  Often mistaken as bees, their appearance is very similar as yellowjackets also have black and yellow markings across their head and body. While bees have a broader, rounded body with hairs all over their body, yellowjackets are sleeker and have a distinctive thin abdomen separating the tail from the body. Unlike bees that are gentle pollinators, yellowjackets are aggressive carnivores that hunt a range of prey from caterpillars to human sources of food. They are usually just over one cm in length, though queens are much larger.

Nest – Yellowjacket nests are often below ground in the natural world, but in urban areas, the draw of constant food sources and concrete buildings and residential backyards provide opportunities that allow them to thrive. Cracks in concrete structures provide protected, sheltered areas for queens to build a wasp nest in early spring, as do many other man-made objects and structures. Yellowjacket nests can grow rapidly, so by the time you see a wasp nest bigger than a tennis ball, there are already dozens (or even hundreds) of pests to deal with.

Special Features – Unlike bees which have barbed stingers, yellowjackets have lance-like stingers that do not separate from the body. That means that unlike a bee which dies if they sting an attacker, wasps can sting several times a minute! This ability to aggressively defend the nest combined with their natural carnivore hunter instinct makes them very troublesome pests to deal with.


Appearance –  Sometimes referred to as the blackjacket, bald-faced hornets have distinctive black and white colouring. They have three white stripes on their body and are considerably larger than yellowjackets as well, averaging almost 2 cm! Worker bald-faced hornets do have small hairs on their body, which are larger and more rounded when compared to yellowjackets.

Nest – Bald-faced hornets have distinctive egg shaped, paper nests that are often found hanging in trees. The inside of the paper nest is a spiraled honeycomb for larvae, encased in a grey paper envelope. Bald-faced hornets nests can be larger than footballs, growing up to nearly two feet in length and a foot in diameter. A nest that size could be home to hundreds and hundreds of wasps. In urban setting nests do not usually reach that size and they are often found in backyards, especially if fruit trees are present.

Special Features – Despite the name, bald-faced hornets are actually a close relative to yellowjackets and aren’t in fact true hornets. The paper envelope of the nest is actually ‘made’ by workers by mixing wood fibers with their saliva, making trees the perfect location for nests.

Mud Daubers, Black and Yellow Mud Dauber, Sceliphron Caementarium

Appearance – Mud daubers vary in appearance, but the most common species you are likely to find in Toronto or the surrounding areas is the black and yellow mud dauber, though the all black organ-pipe mud dauber is also common in areas with sandy ground. These pests are easily identified by their elongated bodies and distinctively long abdomen. They are considerably larger than yellow jackets or bald faced hornets, almost reaching 1.5 inches in length, though most are approximately 3 cm.

Nest – As the name implies, mud daubers build their nests from mud to form long, cylindrical tubes. They do not create large nests and or live in large groups and are far less aggressive in nature as a result. Their nests can create havoc for mechanical vehicles as mud daubers nests have been involved in several commercial disasters, including the crash of Birgenair Fligth 301 in 1996. Their ability to find tube-like areas to nest in urban settings have been determined as the cause of these mechanical failures, as their hardened nests of mud create air flow problems in mechanical vehicle tubes and air intakes, which have resulted in catastrophic results.

Special Features – It’s important to note that while mud daubers do rely on hunting for food, a larger portion of their diet consists of sugars instead of proteins, making them less aggressive in nature. Unless directly threatened, it’s unlikely they will attack as they are much calmer in behavior and are far less territorial.


It’s easy for our seasoned wasp control experts to identify the pest in your backyard. Besides distinctive markings, their nests usually indicate the type of wasp you are dealing with. However, it is important to note that most wasps will aggressively defend their nest to protect the queen and her young, making it difficult to get close enough to a wasp nest to try and get more information. The best thing to do is call an expert wasp exterminator to examine the situation and implement a solution.

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