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Bald-faced HornetsDolichovespula maculata
Bald-faced Hornets Identification
Black with a white pattern on most of the face
1/2 – 5/8” (12-15mm); queen 3/4” (18-20mm)
Found throughout U.S.
What Do Bald-Faced Hornets Look Like?
If you see what looks like a black and white wasp, you may be looking at a bald-faced hornet. They greatly resemble their yellowjacket relatives, but with black bodies and a predominantly white-patterned face. They also have two slanted lines running from their midsection towards their head and on the latter part of their abdomen. Like yellowjackets and paper wasps, the surface of their upper-midsection almost looks triangular from the side.
Queen bald-faced hornets are larger in size than their adult-worker counterparts. Their aerial nests are grey and paper-like, but they are enclosed unlike the open cone structure of other stinging hornets and insects, like yellowjackets and paper wasps.
Signs of a Bald-faced Hornet Infestation
You will most easily recognize a bald-faced hornet infestation by the presence of a nest, likely suspended above the ground. You will also find worker bald-faced hornets flying around the nest and nearby area.
Recognizing these black and white wasps and avoiding contact with them is key to preventing bald-faced hornet stings.
Bald-faced Hornet Photos
Bald-faced Hornets Prevention
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Bald-faced Hornet Sting
Bald-faced hornet stings carry venom that makes the stings hurt, itch and swell for about 24 hours. Humans are at the same risk of allergic reactions from bald-faced hornet stings as with other insect stings.
Bald-faced Hornets Information
Where Do Bald-faced Hornets Live?
Bald-faced hornets build paper nests at least three or more feet off of the ground, usually in trees, shrubs, on overhangs, utility poles, houses, sheds or other structures. These nests can be as large as 14 inches in diameter and more than 24 inches in length.
Can Bald-faced Hornets Hurt You?
Bald-faced hornets are aggressive and will attack anyone or anything that invades their space. This is unlike other stinging insects that may only rarely sting when they feel extremely threatened. This makes bald-faced hornet removal, which should be left strictly to a professional for safety, somewhat difficult. These black and white wasps have smooth stingers, so they can sting over and over again, whereas other stinging insects, like honey bees, are only able to attack once before their stinger falls off.
Bald-faced Hornet Habits
Bald-faced hornets are social insects and are most visibly active during the day. They live in colonies that may contain between 100 and 400 members at their peak.
Bald-faced hornets usually appear in late summer when populations are largest. Specifically, males emerge from unfertilized eggs and impregnate the new females for the next season in the end of the summer. The inseminated insects are the only ones that overwinter when the weather cools, while the remaining members of the nest die off, and the process repeats the next spring and summer. Unlike other stinging insects, bald-faced hornets do not reuse their nests season after season—the new members will rebuild them each time from new materials.