Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)
*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.
Bald-faced Hornets are common to the meadows, 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. Colonies last one year, with new queens overwintering to make new nests the following spring.
Bald-faced Hornets build nests at least the size of a basketball, and sometimes larger. Nests are grayish and round or pear-shaped, typically in higher aerial locations 10-12 feet high, such as in trees, shrubs, 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.
Nature toward humans:
Bald-faced Hornets can be very aggressive when aggravated or when the nest is disturbed, presenting a significant stinging hazard. It is reported that they will go for the facial area when they attack humans.