Bald Faced Hornet: Facts, Identification, and Behavior
Bald faced hornets, scientifically known as Dolichovespula maculata, are fascinating creatures that are commonly found in North America. Despite their name, they are not actually hornets but rather a type of yellowjacket wasp. This article will provide you with essential information about bald faced hornets, including their identification, behavior, and frequently asked questions.
Bald faced hornets are easily recognizable due to their distinct appearance. They are about 0.5 to 0.75 inches long and have a black body with white or yellow markings on their face, thorax, and abdomen. These markings give them their unique bald faced appearance. Additionally, they have transparent wings and a stinger, which they use for defense.
1. Nest Construction: Bald faced hornets are known for building large, paper-like nests. These nests are usually located in trees, shrubs, or other elevated areas. The queen starts the construction in the spring, using chewed wood fibers mixed with her saliva. As the colony grows, the worker hornets continue expanding and maintaining the nest.
2. Social Structure: Bald faced hornets are highly social insects that live in colonies. Each colony consists of a queen, female workers, and male drones. The queen is responsible for laying eggs and starting new colonies. Workers are females who perform various tasks, such as building the nest, collecting food, and protecting the colony. Drones are males whose sole purpose is to mate with the queen.
3. Food Sources: Bald faced hornets are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of food sources. They primarily consume nectar, fruit juices, and other sugary substances. However, they are also known to hunt insects, spiders, and other small creatures, which they bring back to the nest to feed the larvae.
4. Defensive Nature: Bald faced hornets are known for their aggressive nature when their nest is threatened. They can sting multiple times, and their stings are painful. It is essential to avoid disturbing their nests to prevent any potential conflicts.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Are bald faced hornets dangerous?
Bald faced hornets can be dangerous if their nest is disturbed. They are known to defend their colony aggressively and can deliver painful stings.
2. Do bald faced hornets die after stinging?
No, unlike honeybees, bald faced hornets do not die after stinging. They can sting multiple times without causing harm to themselves.
3. Are bald faced hornets beneficial?
Bald faced hornets play a crucial role in the ecosystem. They help control insect populations, including spiders and flies, by hunting and feeding them to their larvae.
4. Can bald faced hornets damage property?
While bald faced hornets do not usually cause structural damage to buildings, their nests can be unsightly. Additionally, their aggressive nature can be a threat to people in close proximity to their nests.
5. How long do bald faced hornets live?
The lifespan of bald faced hornets varies depending on their role within the colony. Queens can live up to a year, while workers and drones only live for a few months.
6. What should I do if I find a bald faced hornet nest on my property?
It is best to contact a professional pest control service to safely remove the nest. Attempting to remove it yourself can be dangerous and may result in stings.
7. Can bald faced hornets be found in urban areas?
Yes, bald faced hornets can be found in both rural and urban areas. They are adaptable insects that can build nests in various locations, including trees, shrubs, and even buildings.
8. Are bald faced hornets nocturnal?
No, bald faced hornets are diurnal insects, meaning they are active during the day and rest at night.
9. Can bald faced hornets survive the winter?
Bald faced hornet colonies do not survive the winter. Only the newly mated queens hibernate during the cold months, with the rest of the colony dying off.
10. Can bald faced hornets be controlled without killing them?
If a bald faced hornet nest is not causing any direct harm, it is best to leave it alone. However, if the nest poses a threat, it is advisable to seek professional assistance to remove it safely.
In conclusion, bald faced hornets are fascinating insects with unique characteristics. Understanding their behavior and identification is essential for coexisting peacefully with these creatures. By respecting their space and seeking professional help when necessary, we can ensure a harmonious relationship with these remarkable insects.