All of the above can be a nuisance problem in the late summer months in Lake Como. They yellowjackets, a type of wasp are known for scavenging around rubbish bins and picnic areas. However on a more positive note these insects are beneficial in their activities as predators of pest insects and as pollinators. It is important to distinguish between the various species of wasps and bees as their potential as problems and the methods used to control them differ.
Yellowjackets are striped yellow/black or orange/black, and are hairless (sometimes mistaken for honey bees). They usually nest underground but they also build their nests in dark crevices in buildings, crawl spaces and inside wall cavities. The nests are covered by a papery envelope but the entrance to the nest is often very small and not easily visible therefore making it difficult to locate them. These wasps are quite aggressive and will defend their nests readily but they will also attack you if you get in their way and make them feel threatened. They feed on dead insects, earthworms, dead animals, rubbish and they love sugar rich foods.
European Hornets are the largest European social wasp and are brown/yellow striped with reddish-orange coloured wings. They build large papery nests in trees, shrubs and under the eaves of buildings. Their nests are often very large in size and are therefore very noticeable. This species of hornet is not usually aggressive (unlike the yellowjackets) but will defend itself if provoked, or if you are in close proximity to its nest then they will defend the colony, so take care! They feed their young on live insects. European hornets are attracted to lights at night, but are not attracted to human foods and food wastes. In Italy you will hear them being called calabrone.
European Paper Wasps have similar markings to that of the yellowjackets (black/yellow stripes) which they are often mistaken for. Their open cell nests are made of paper which are not covered by a papery envelope. These wasps nest more or less anywhere; under the eaves of buildings, inside wall cavities , around the garden and even inside metal gutters. This had led to an increase in the number of people being stung by these wasps. However they can be beneficial predators of caterpillars and other pest insects but they do not scavenge for food.