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Bald-Faced Hornets

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Dolichovespula maculata

Appearance

The bald-faced hornet belongs to the genus Dolichovespula. Bald-faced hornets are more closely related to yellow jackets than they are to hornets. The body of the bald-faced hornet is black in color, and its face is marked with white. Bald-faced hornets are larger than most yellow jackets, with workers ranging from 15 to 20 mm or more.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Bald-faced hornets are most active during the day. They usually build aerial nests made of paper in trees or under overhangs. Adults consume liquids, usually sugars like juices or nectar, but will bring back solids such as insects or carrion for the larvae to consume.

Reproduction

The nest of the bald-faced hornet can be found hanging from trees, bushes and buildings. A colony begins in spring, when a queen lays a single egg inside each cell as she begins to build her nest. She puts insects and nectar into the cell with the egg. These eggs hatch into larvae, eventually becoming workers that help to further expand the nest.

A bald-faced hornet nest can grow to be as large as a basketball within a number of months. As many as 700 workers may live in the nest. Males appear late in the summer. The males fertilize some of the newly developed females. These fertilized females look for places to hibernate as cold weather approaches. They will be the next season’s queens. The remaining members of the nest perish in winter.

Signs of a Bald-Faced Hornet Infestation

The large paper nest and the workers are the signs of bald-faced hornet activity.

More Information

While bald-faced hornets do prey upon other pests and can prove beneficial, their nests should not be permitted to develop near a home. Workers are protective and aggressive when disturbed. Nests should not be handled without the assistance of a pest control professional.

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