W*H*Y Wednesday: The Bald-faced Hornet
Today's featured insect is the big, bad, bold Bald-faced Hornet.
First off, we will note that the Bald-faced Hornet is not a true hornet, but rather is closely related to the genus Vespula (yellowjackets).
Bald-faced Hornets are named for their white face coloration. On the rest of their bodies, they are mostly black with white markings on the thorax and lower half of the abdomen. Compared to yellowjackets, they are quite large and plump, at 3/4 inch long.
For some amazing close-up photos showing the coloration more clearly, follow this link.
Bald-faced Hornets are common to both wooded and urban areas. They typically only forage for live prey but occasionally will scavenge for sugars. This species primarily preys on flies and other yellowjackets for protein... which is why we sometimes see them hanging around our RESCUE! Fly Trap or Disposable Yellowjacket Trap.
Bald-faced Hornets are found in many places throughout the U.S., as illustrated in the highlighted portion of this map:
Bald-faced Hornets build nests that are at least the size of a basketball, and sometimes larger. The nests are grayish and round or pear-shaped, typically in higher aerial locations such as in trees or on buildings. Bald-faced Hornet nests are much stronger, flexible, and resistant to water damage than the nests of other species. The thick paper of the nest conceals two to six horizontally arranged combs. Peak nest populations are 400 or more workers.
Use caution when you see one of these. Bald-faced Hornets can be extremely aggressive when the nest is disturbed, and it is reported that they will go for the facial area when they attack humans.
Here's a video we shot two years ago of a Bald-faced Hornet nest hidden in some shrubbery next to a garbage container:
Good news if you have Bald-faced Hornets in your backyard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch them!
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