Getting to Know the Queen Bald Faced Hornet: Characteristics and Behavior
The bald faced hornet, also known as Dolichovespula maculata, is a species of wasp that belongs to the Vespidae family. Despite its name, the bald faced hornet is not a true hornet but rather a type of yellowjacket wasp. These insects are commonly found in North America, especially in the United States and Canada. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics and behavior of the queen bald faced hornet.
Characteristics of the Queen Bald Faced Hornet
1. Appearance: The queen bald faced hornet is larger than her worker sisters and can measure up to 3/4 of an inch in length. She has a black body with white markings on her face, thorax, and abdomen. These distinct white markings give the hornet its bald-faced appearance.
2. Nest: The queen bald faced hornet builds a large, paper-like nest made from chewed wood fibers mixed with her saliva. These nests are typically found in trees, shrubs, or on the sides of buildings. The nests can reach the size of a basketball and contain multiple combs where the hornets lay their eggs.
3. Reproduction: The queen bald faced hornet is responsible for reproducing and establishing a new colony. In early spring, after overwintering in a protected area, the queen emerges and begins searching for a suitable location to build her nest. Once the nest is established, she lays eggs that will develop into worker hornets.
Behavior of the Queen Bald Faced Hornet
1. Social Structure: Bald faced hornets are highly social insects that live in colonies. The queen is the dominant individual in the colony and is responsible for laying eggs and maintaining the social order. The workers, all females, assist the queen in nest-building, foraging for food, and caring for the developing larvae.
2. Defense Mechanisms: The queen bald faced hornet is a formidable defender of her colony. When threatened, she can sting repeatedly, injecting venom into her victims. The venom causes pain, swelling, and irritation in humans. Unlike bees, hornets do not lose their stinger after stinging and can continue to attack.
3. Prey and Diet: Bald faced hornets are predatory insects and play an essential role in controlling other insect populations. They primarily feed on other insects, including flies, caterpillars, and spiders. The hornets capture their prey by stunning them with their powerful mandibles and then carry them back to the nest to feed their larvae.
FAQs about the Queen Bald Faced Hornet
1. Are bald faced hornets aggressive?
Bald faced hornets can be aggressive if their nest is disturbed or if they perceive a threat. It is best to avoid provoking them and to keep a safe distance from their nests.
2. Do bald faced hornets sting?
Yes, bald faced hornets can sting and inject venom into their victims. Their stings can be painful and cause swelling and irritation.
3. What should I do if I find a bald faced hornet nest on my property?
It is recommended 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.
4. Can bald faced hornets damage my property?
Bald faced hornets can chew wood to build their nests, but their impact on property damage is minimal compared to termites or carpenter ants.
5. Are bald faced hornets beneficial?
Yes, bald faced hornets are beneficial because they help control other insect populations, such as flies and caterpillars.
6. How long does the queen bald faced hornet live?
The queen bald faced hornet can live for several months, while workers have a much shorter lifespan of a few weeks.
7. Do bald faced hornets overwinter?
Yes, the queen bald faced hornet overwinters in a protected area, such as in tree bark or under loose bark on buildings. She emerges in the spring to establish a new colony.
8. Can bald faced hornets be found in urban areas?
Yes, bald faced hornets can be found in both rural and urban areas, as long as suitable nesting locations are available.
9. Are bald faced hornets attracted to sweet foods?
Bald faced hornets are not particularly attracted to sweet foods like other hornets or bees. They primarily feed on other insects.
10. Can bald faced hornets be kept as pets?
Bald faced hornets are aggressive and not suitable as pets. It is best to appreciate them from a safe distance and allow them to fulfill their natural role in the ecosystem.
In conclusion, the queen bald faced hornet is a fascinating insect with distinct characteristics and behavior. Understanding their role in the environment and their potential impact on humans is essential for coexisting peacefully with these remarkable creatures.