Bald-faced hornets are a zebra-colored relative of the yellow jacket. These black-and-white insects are feared by many, mainly due to their powerful and incredibly painful sting. Plus, they are found all across the United States, so there’s a decent shot nearly everyone has heard of or encountered them during their lifetime.
Understanding the Bald-Faced Hornet
The bald-faced hornet gets its name from its unique color pattern. While the body is mainly black, the face what white markings, reminiscent of bald spots. Though they are related to yellow jackets, these flying critters are significantly larger than most of their brethren.
When it comes to their lifecycle, the tale of the bald-faced hornet is actually a little sad. During the winter, only the newly-hatched queen survives. Every other member of the colony dies. But that doesn’t stop this stinging species from being a potentially bothersome pest.
Every spring, the queen crafts a new nest, which is made of chewed wood. She rebuilds the whole colony from scratch, laying an egg in every compartment and raising the first batch of offspring on her own. The first workers don’t emerge for about a month, then they take over feeding and expanding the nest. This gives the queen a chance to focus on egg-laying, and she does that in spades.
At its peak, a single nest can have 100 to 400 workers or more. Once the colony starts to decline, larger compartments are created, making it easier to raise new queens and the males who will head out to mate.
Some consider the bald-faced hornet to be beneficial to the environment. They may kill smaller insects, including flies. However, they don’t have anything to do with plant or flower pollination and only occasionally scavenge for sources of sugar. As a result, some believe that these critters aren’t great additions to most communities.
The Bald-Faced Hornet Nest
Bald-faced hornets may build nests in a few places. Dense trees or shrubs are certainly favorites. However, tree hollows also look quite welcoming to these stinging insects. Usually, they try to pick a location that’s 10 to 12 feet in the air. However, they might select a different location if it is fairly sheltered and unlikely to be disturbed. This includes the sides of structures and under house eaves.
A nest tends to be gray in color, looking a bit like sheets of newspaper wrapped around each other to form a ball. There’s a single opening that serves as an entrance and exit, usually near the bottom of the ball. At peak colony size, the nest can reach the size of a basketball or bigger.
When the queen is looking for a place to hole up during the winter, she may head indoors. A gap in a roof or near an eave might look mighty fine when the weather turns cold.
When Bald-Faced Hornets Are Dangerous (and Even Deadly)
Bald-faced hornets are incredibly social and pretty aggressive. They will sting if they think the nest is under attack or in danger, and that can lead to some trouble.
A bald-faced hornet can deliver multiple stings, and those stings can be fatal. Plus, since a whole group may attack, you are potentially exposing yourself to a lot of venom. This increases the likelihood of death from a potentially serious allergic reaction.
Getting Rid of Bald-Faced Hornets
If you decide to remove a bald-faced hornet nest yourself, wearing a bee suit is a must. It will reduce your chance of being stung. However, you also need to have additional protection. A bald-faced hornet can spray venom, so wear goggles that fully seal around your eyes for safety. Then, you can spray the nest in the evening and, suggesting you don’t see any additional activity the next day, remove the nest once the hornets are dead.
But, since disturbing a nest can trigger an attack and a bee suit isn’t completely impenetrable, it’s best to call in pest control professionals. They will have the right equipment and the know-how to deal with the bald-faced hornets and their nest safely.
At Ed’s Dead Bug, we have treatment options that will handle bald-faced hornet nests in trees, shrubs, and on structures. Plus, we guarantee our results. We’ll do what it takes to ensure your bald-faced hornet problem is solved to your satisfaction.