Bald-faced Hornets

Dolichovespula maculata
Bald Face Hornet - NPMA.jpg

Bald-Faced Hornets Identification

Pest Stats

Color

Black with a white pattern on most of the face

Legs

6

Shape

Long, wasp-like

Size

1/2 – 5/8” (12-15mm); queen 3/4” (18-20mm)

Antennae

Yes

Region

Found throughout U.S.

What Do Bald-Faced Hornets Look Like?

Bald-faced hornets greatly resemble their yellowjacket relatives, 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 an Infestation

A bald-faced hornet infestation is clearly visible with the presence of a nest, which would be suspended above the ground. There will also be worker bald-faced hornets flying around the nest and nearby area if there is an infestation. 

Avoiding contact with these insects is key to prevent getting stung. Homeowners should seal up any tiny openings like cracks where bald-faced hornets would be able to enter when seeking shelter. Keeping food covered, especially when outdoors, will also help keep these insects at bay. When spending time outside, people should avoid wearing strong fragrances and opt for unscented hygienic products. Likewise, they should wear shoes that cover and protect their feet from rogue hornets.

Bald-Faced Hornets Prevention

How to Get Rid of Bald-Faced Hornets

If you find a bald-faced hornet nest on your home or property, do not attempt to remove it on your own as this can aggravate the colony and cause the hornets to sting. Contact a licensed pest control professional about proper hornet removal to avoid the risk of bald-faced hornet stings. A professional will likely examine the nest during the daytime, and then they will remove the nest at night—when the majority of the hornets are in their shelter—to maximize removal.

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.

/media/35873/bald-face-hornet-npma.

Bald-Faced Hornets Education

Habitat

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.

Threats

Bald-faced hornets are aggressive and will attack anyone or anything that invades their space, unlike other stinging insects that may only rarely sting when they feel extremely threatened. This makes bald-faced hornet removal, which should be left to a professional for safety, somewhat difficult. These hornets have smooth stingers, so they can sting over and over again, whereas other stinging insects, like honeybees, are only able to attack once before their stinger falls off.

Habits

Bald-faced hornets are social insects, although not true hornets, 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 build paper carton nests in the area of the queen’s choosing, typically at least three or more feet off of the ground, and 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.

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.