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Baldfaced Hornet , (Dolichovespula maculate) Bald-faced Hornets are common tree-nesting wasps. They grow to 3/4 inch long. These hornets are easy to recognize because of their color pattern. The head, thorax, abdomen, and antennae are black and white. Wings are smoky. Bald-faced Hornet nests are usually found in meadows, forest edges, gardens, and parks. Nests are made by chewing up strips of wood and mixing it with sticky saliva. One nest may hold up to 700 hornets.
The baldfaced hornet is a large, black and white hornet up to 1 inch (25.4mm) in length. It is black and white in color with a mostly white head or âfaceâ. It is widely distributed in Virginia. The nests are constructed of the same paper-like material as that of other wasps.
They differ a great deal from other wasp nests in being enclosed in a thick âpaperâ envelope. There is a single opening at the lower end of the nest and a few hornets always guard this. Nests are always abandoned at the end of the season.
Life Cycle: Baldfaced hornets are social insects. The mature colony consists of a queen, 200 to 400 winged infertile female workers, brood (eggs, larvae and pupae) and, in late summer, males and reproductive females. Eggs are laid in cells of the nest by the queen. Larvae hatching from eggs are fed by workers.
Larvae are legless and maggot-like, and develop through several stages (instars) before pupating. Cells are left open during larval development, but are capped by workers when larvae pupate. Mated female wasps or queens overwinter in protected habitats such as cracks and crevices, and begin a new colony the following spring..
Habitat: The oval-shaped nests are often quite large and are usually found attached to limbs of trees. Meadows, forest edges, and lawns.
Damage: The bald-faced hornet causes little agricultural or structural damage. Yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets become very numerous towards the end of summer and may be persistent, unwelcome guests at picnics, where they scavenge for food.
Controls: Baldfaced hornets can be considered a beneficial insect in that they reduce populations of unwanted insectsand will help pollinate flowers when they are searching for nectar. Therefore, unless the nests are located close within 10 feet of an entrance to a building, under an eave that is close to the ground or in shrubbery next to a lawn that is mowed, the nests can be ignored.
Those individuals without medical concerns and with a degree of daring can kill the colony by spraying a âwasp and hornetâ spray into the nest opening during the nighttime. The nest should be scouted during daylight to determine the best approach that will not disturb the wasps prior to introduction of the insecticide.
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