The Bald-faced Hornet is helpful to humans dealing with other flying pests, but the warning to keep your distance is black and white.
Bald-faced Hornets are related to yellow jackets, but are not "true" hornets themselves. This species features a rather stout body and they are more white than yellow. They are mainly black from head to abdomen, and the pattern of white bands and lines is the same for all individuals. Males differ from females somewhat in having an additional white band on the first abdominal segment as well as at the tip. Workers measure between 12 and 15 mm while the queen is substantially larger at 18 to 20 mm.
Bald-faced Hornets are considered a beneficial species because they prey on flies and other yellow jackets (notoriously aggressive). Adults will chew flies into a pulp and feed them to their larvae. Adults are also known to feed on nectar and tree sap for themselves. Their habitat ranges from developed areas like backyards, parks and gardens, to forests and meadows.
Bald-faced Hornets are extremely aggressive if they, or their nest, is under threat or disturbed. They will sting REPEATEDLY. Nests are a gray, shapely, paper-like mass with an opening at the bottom. These bulbous nests are above ground, usually attached to lower branches of a tree or shrub, or on the eaves of outbuildings. Active nests can contain anywhere from 100-400 individuals. Removal by a professional is prudent in areas close to human activity.
Scientific Name: Dolichovespula maculata
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 20mm (0.47in to 0.78in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.