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Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Bald-faced Hornet



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The Bald-faced Hornet is helpful to humans dealing with other flying pests, but the warning to keep your distance is black and white.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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, are 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.




Known Diet of the Bald-Faced-Hornet



fruit juices, nectar, insects


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmful insect icon
Insect stinger icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Vespidae
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          Genus: Dolichovespula
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            Species: maculata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Dolichovespula maculata
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 20mm (0.47" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, white, yellow
Descriptors: bee, white, triangle, harmful, stinging, flying, fat
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 12mm (0.5in) and 20mm (0.8in)
Lo: 12mm
Md: 16mm
Hi: 20mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Bald-faced Hornet may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Bald-faced Hornet. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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