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Bald-faced Hornet

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Bald-faced Hornet

Dolichovespula maculata

Characteristics

Size:
About 1 inch in length.

Color:
Bluish-black with white markings on its face, thorax and abdomen.

Behavior:
Bald-faced hornets are not true hornets at all; they are aerial yellow jackets. This hornet constructs paper nests made from wood harvested from logs and trees. The nest of the bald-faced hornet will take on a football shape, growing larger with time. Some nests may measure up to two feet in length and contain hundreds of worker wasps. The nests last one year. Each year in the fall, a hornet nest produces numerous queens that fly out to find a protected site (e.g., under loose bark) to overwinter. The following spring, each queen finds a suitable site in a tree or shrub to begin constructing her nest. She forms a small paper nest inside in which she builds a paper “comb” and raises her first brood of larvae. The workers that emerge from that brood begin foraging for food, enlarging the nest, caring for the young and defending the colony. Hornets will aggressively attack and sting any intruder threatening or disturbing the nest.

Habitats

Bald-faced hornets normally construct their nests on the branches of trees and shrubs. Nests may be 20 feet or higher in a tree, but more likely will be closer to the ground within 10 to 12 feet. This hornet has been known to construct its nests on the sides of homes, although it does not locate its nest inside the voids of buildings as does its close cousin, the yellow jacket.

Tips For Control

Hornets and yellow jackets should only be controlled by an experienced professional. The danger of stings is considerable, especially when proper protective clothing and equipment are not worn.

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