Bald-Faced Hornets

Dolichovespula maculata

Color: Black with white pattern on face
Shape Long, wasp-like
Size 1/2 – 5/8 inches long; queen 3/4 inches long
Region Found throughout the U.S.

Overview

This large black-and-white relative of the yellowjacket gets its common name from its largely black color but mostly white face. It is named a hornet because of its large size and aerial nest.

Habits

Bald-faced hornets are social insects, although not true hornets. They live in colonies that may contain between 100 and 400 members at their peak. They usually appear in late summer when populations are largest. Bald-faced hornets build paper nests at least three or more feet off the ground, usually in trees, shrubs, on overhangs, utility poles, houses, sheds, or other structures.

Threats

Bald-faced hornets are aggressive and will attack anyone or anything that invades their space. This makes bald-faced hornet removal somewhat difficult. They have smooth stingers, so they can sting over and over again. Their stings also carry venom that makes the stings hurt, itchy or swell for about 24 hours. Humans are at the same risk of allergic reactions from a bald-faced hornet stings as with other insect stings.

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