Bald-Faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Bald-Faced Hornet.
Updated: 2/2/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.