The Fascinating Life Cycle of a Bald Faced Hornet Nest
Bald faced hornets, also known as white-faced hornets, are fascinating creatures that build large, paper-like nests. These nests are not only impressive in structure but also play a vital role in the life cycle of these hornets. Understanding the life cycle of a bald faced hornet nest can provide valuable insights into the behavior and habits of these intriguing insects.
1. Nest Initiation
The life cycle of a bald faced hornet nest begins in the early spring. The queen, who overwinters in a protected location, emerges from hibernation and starts searching for a suitable spot to construct her nest. This location is typically high off the ground, such as in a tree or on a building.
2. Nest Construction
Once the queen has found a suitable location, she begins constructing the nest. Bald faced hornets build their nests by chewing up wood fibers and mixing them with their saliva to create a paper-like substance. This substance is then molded into the nest's characteristic shape, which resembles an upside-down teardrop.
3. Egg Laying
After completing the initial structure of the nest, the queen begins laying eggs. These eggs are placed in individual cells within the nest and are tended to by the queen until they hatch. The eggs typically take around 5-7 days to hatch.
4. Larval Stage
Once the eggs hatch, they enter the larval stage. The queen feeds the larvae regurgitated food, which mainly consists of insects and other small prey. This stage lasts for approximately two weeks, during which the larvae grow rapidly.
5. Pupal Stage
After the larval stage, the larvae spin cocoons and enter the pupal stage. Inside the cocoons, the larvae undergo metamorphosis, transforming into adult hornets. This stage can last for up to two weeks.
6. Emergence of Workers
As the first batch of adult hornets emerges from their cocoons, they become workers. These workers take over the responsibilities of nest expansion, foraging for food, and caring for the queen and subsequent batches of larvae. The queen's sole focus now is egg laying.
7. Nest Expansion
As the number of workers increases, so does the size of the nest. Bald faced hornet nests can grow to be quite large, with multiple layers of cells housing eggs, larvae, and pupae.
8. Colony Development
The colony continues to develop throughout the summer months. The queen produces new batches of eggs, ensuring a steady supply of workers to maintain the nest and gather food. The nest can house thousands of individuals by the end of summer.
9. Reproductive Phase
Towards the end of summer, the queen begins producing male and female reproductive cells. These cells are fertilized and become future queens and drones. The drones fly away from the nest to mate with queens from other colonies, while the newly fertilized queens seek shelter to overwinter.
10. Nest Abandonment
With the onset of winter, the bald faced hornet nest becomes inactive. The workers die off, and the nest is abandoned. The following spring, a new queen will emerge from hibernation and start the cycle anew.
1. Are bald faced hornets dangerous?
Bald faced hornets can be aggressive and will sting to defend their nest if threatened. However, they are generally not aggressive towards humans unless provoked.
2. Can bald faced hornets sting multiple times?
No, like other hornets and wasps, bald faced hornets can sting multiple times.
3. How big can a bald faced hornet nest get?
Bald faced hornet nests can grow to be the size of a basketball or even larger, depending on the colony's age and success.
4. How long does it take for a bald faced hornet nest to be constructed?
The construction of a bald faced hornet nest can take a few weeks, depending on the availability of resources and the queen's efforts.
5. Can bald faced hornets reuse their nests?
No, bald faced hornets do not reuse their nests. Each year, a new nest is constructed by a new queen.
6. What do bald faced hornets eat?
Bald faced hornets are carnivorous and primarily feed on insects, spiders, and other small prey.
7. Can bald faced hornets cause damage to buildings?
Bald faced hornets can cause damage to wooden structures when constructing their nests. However, this damage is usually minimal.
8. How long does a bald faced hornet live?
Worker bald faced hornets typically live for a few months, while the queen can live for several years.
9. Can bald faced hornets be beneficial?
Bald faced hornets can be beneficial as they prey on other insects, helping to control their populations.
10. How can I remove a bald faced hornet nest?
It is recommended to hire a professional pest control service to safely remove a bald faced hornet nest, as they can be aggressive when disturbed.