The following was compiled from several web sources to help identify and give useful information on the insects.

Apis mellifera scutellata (Africanized Honeybee)


  • Size: About 1/2-inch in length.
  • Color: Golden-yellow with darker bands of brown. Some specimens appear a darker brown than others.
Africanized honeybees are near identical to the European honeybees as they are a subspecies. Only an expert can tell the two apart from microscopic measurements . However, the aggressiveness of the Africanized honeybee is apparent when its colony is disturbed, lending to its nickname "killer bees." When aroused they will attack and sting any moving animal or object. They will chase individuals for hundreds of yards and have been known to sting people and pets over area as large as  neighborhood block.  Death may occur due to allergic reactions from the larger number of stings received. It may take hours for the Africanized bees to settle down and return to the colony. Other honeybees will attack and sting for a few minutes and then settle down rather quickly.

Honeybees most often nest inside cavities of trees, but they will also nest within caves and cracks in rock formations. Occasionally, a colony will decide to nest inside a crawl space, an attic, a wall void, or a chimney in a home.

The Africanized honeybees are established in areas from Texas to southern California. Colonies have also been discovered in Florida and a few other southeastern states but these have been eradicated.

More information from NMSU CAHE





Vespula spp. (Yellow Jacket)


  • Size: About 1/2 -to 1-inch in length.
  • Color: Generally small wasps with black and yellow stripes.
These are social insects that live in colonies often in the ground that may contain hundreds possibly thousands of individuals. These wasps will aggressively attack when their nest is disturbed, and can inflict painful stings. Unlike the honeybee, the Yellow Jacket wasp is typically slightly larger and slender, and may appear shiny.  Also where the honeybee stings only one time and then dies, a single yellow jacket can sting many times. Colonies located in or near a home can pose a threat to the persons living in the house.

Yellow jackets prefer to locate their nests in the ground, usually in an old rodent burrow or similar hole. This wasp also commonly locates its nest inside the walls of a building by entering through cracks or holes in the outside walls. Be aware of numerous wasps flying into and away from a single point in the garden or to a hole in the side of the house. This will usually indicate where a colony might be located.