Bald-faced Hornet – 5/30/20

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 5/30/20

Observation Time:  4:30 p.m.

Observation Location: Moose Hill Farm (TTOR)

Common Name: Bald-faced Hornet

Scientific Name: Dolichovespula maculata

Comments: The bald-faced hornet is related to yellowjacket wasps, and is not a true hornet. Its colloquial names include bald hornet, white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, spruce wasp, blackjacket, and bull wasp.

Bald-faced hornets are social insects and are most active during the day. They live in colonies of up to 700 members. Bald-faced hornets build paper carton nests in the area of the queen’s choosing, typically three or more feet off 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. The individual in the photos below seemed to be chewing at the dead wood – perhaps to make nest-building wood pulp.

Bald-faced hornets usually appear in late summer. Males emerge from unfertilized eggs and impregnate the new females for the next season at the end of the summer. The inseminated insects are the only ones that overwinter, 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 colony members rebuild them each year from new materials.

Bald-faced hornets are aggressive and will attack anyone who invades their space, unlike other stinging insects that only rarely sting when they feel threatened. Removal of a bald-faced hornet nest is dangerous, and should be left to a professional. These hornets have smooth stingers, so they can sting repeatedly, whereas other stinging insects, like honeybees, are only able to attack once before their stinger falls off.

More Information: Wikipedia