|Color||Baldfaced hornets look similar to yellow jackets, but instead of yellow, they have white to cream-colored markings.|
|Size||5/8-3/4" long. The queen is usually the largest in the colony.|
|Appearance||Resembling their yellow jacket relatives, they have distinctive ivory-white markings on the face, as well as the thorax, legs and abdomen.|
Adults consume liquids, usually sugars like juices or nectar, but will bring back solids such as insects or carrion for the larvae to consume.
Habitat & Nests
Nests are usually attached to a tree branch located in bushes, shrubbery or a wooded area. However, they can also be attached to utility poles or under the eaves of houses, sheds or other structures that provide protection. Nests will be at least three feet off the ground and as high as 60 feet or more. They are made of chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva, creating a gray-colored, paper-like material. Reaching up to 24" in height and 18" across, there is a single opening at the bottom to allow the hornets to fly in and out. Nests are built from scratch each year and the previous year's nest can not be reused.
Colonies & Life Cycle
In the spring, fertilized queens that have overwintered in protected places such as in hollow trees, rock piles, under bark and in the walls and attics of buildings become active and begin to build a nest. The queen collects cellulose from weathered and rotting wood, chews the wood adding her saliva making a papery material and constructs the nest. She creates a few cells within the nest, deposits eggs in them and feeds the larvae when they hatch. This first brood become workers, assuming the duties of building nests, collecting food, feeding future larvae and protecting the nest while the queen only produces more eggs.
As the summer progresses, the colony grows to its largest population, usually between 100 to 400 workers. This is when property owners start to notice them buzzing around. Males emerge from unfertilized eggs and impregnate the new females for the next season.
By the fall, males and new queens leave the nest, mate, and the fertilized queens hibernate. Most of the colony will die before or shortly after the first hard frost. Queens are the only members of the colony able to survive the winter. A colony of social wasps (hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps) lasts only one year.
Even though baldfaced hornets are beneficial by preying on other pests, they are extremely aggressive and will attack anyone or anything that invades their space. The sting of a baldfaced hornet carries venom causing stings to hurt, itch and swell for about 24 hours. Because these hornets have smooth stingers, they can sting over and over again, whereas other stinging insects, like honey bees, are only able to attack once before their stinger falls off. Of course, as with all other insect stings, humans are at risk for allergic reactions.
Prevention & Control
Avoiding contact with these insects is key to prevent getting stung. Other prevention tips include:
- Seal up any tiny openings or cracks where baldfaced hornets seek shelter
- Keep food covered, especially when outdoors
- Avoid wearing strong fragrances and opt for unscented hygienic products
- Wear shoes that cover and protect feet
Regular inspections of your home by a pest control professional throughout the year is the best method to identify and prevent any issues with baldfaced hornets or any other pests. The BAN System provides regularly scheduled preventive services every quarter.
If you find a baldfaced hornet nest on your home or property, do not attempt to remove it on your own as this can aggravate the colony and cause the hornets to sting. Nests should not be handled without the assistance of a pest control company.
A Batzner Service Specialist will come to your property to identify the nesting sites and determine the proper treatment method. Once treatment is applied it may take up to 72 hours to see a reduction in activity at the nesting site. A preventative exterior treatment is also available to deter baldfaced hornets from building nests in your eaves, soffits, and peaks. The nest also needs to be removed to ensure the colony is eliminated. This should only be done by an experienced professional.