A colony of wasps recently made a nest in my compost bin. The structure looks like cotton batting. What species might these be?
The structure looks like cotton batting, 2"-3" thick, forming a layer about 18" diameter, the full size of the bin. I was stung maybe 10-12 times when I lifted the lid of the compost bin to add more kitchen scraps to the bin. This was the first time in a week or 10 days that I opened the bin to add more material. I believe these insects are wasps, not bees, since I did not find any residual stingers in my skin after being stung. These critters were very fast and aggressive so I did not get a good look at them, but they did appear to have yellow and black stripes. I live in Carroll County, Maryland, just west of Baltimore County.
What species might these be?
P.S. A commercial wasp/hornet spray knocked them back enough so that I was able to open up the compost bin and remove the nest. Even so, I took another sting while doing that. I wore a heavy winter coat with a hood and was wearing heavy work gloves, but one insect still found an opening to get me in the neck. No particular damage to my health other than I had to apply baking soda to the sting to neutralize the effect of the formic acid. I'm not allergic to insect stings so I did not have to visit the local Urgent Care facility.