Bald-faced Hornet

Family Name

Dolichovespula maculata

Characteristics

Type:

Flying – Stinging

Size:

About 1 inch in length.

Colour:

Bluish-black, with white markings on its face, thorax and abdomen.

Behaviour:

Bald-faced hornets are omnivorous, and are considered to be beneficial due to their predation of flies, caterpillars, and spiders. However, their aggressively defensive nature makes them a threat to humans who wander too close to a nest or when a nest is constructed too close to human habitation. Due to its smooth stinger, a bald-faced hornet can attack a target repeatedly without harming itself. When they “zone in,” they will often attack in very large numbers. This means, the insects may inject a large amount of venom, increasing the likelihood of painful swelling or a far more serious allergic reaction. However, the bald-faced hornet has a unique defense in that it can squirt venom from the stinger into the eyes of vertebrate nest intruders. The venom causes immediate watering of the eyes and temporary blindness.

Habitats

Bald-faced hornets normally construct their nests on the branches of trees and shrubs. Nests may be 20 feet or higher in a tree, but more likely will be closer to the ground within 10 to 12 feet. This hornet has been known to construct its nests on the sides of homes, although it does not locate its nest inside the voids of buildings as does its close cousin, the yellow jacket.

Tips for Control

Save for removing all foliage from the yard, total prevention of bald-faced hornets is impossible to achieve. However, limiting access to overwintering sites indoors can be accomplished by finding and sealing all cracks in the foundation of the home or building. Replacing broken or torn window and door screens also deters the pests from entering. Additionally, tightly seal all outdoor trash receptacles and trim shrubbery and trees, so they offer as few nesting sites as possible.

Bald-faced hornets aggressively protect their nest and they should not be permitted to develop near a home. Workers are protective and aggressive when disturbed. Therefore, unexperienced or untrained individuals should not attempt to control or remove a nest without professional help. Calling a local pest control professional for treatment and removal of the nest is the only guaranteed way to eliminate a bald-faced hornet colony.