The Fascinating World of Bald Faced Hornets: Exploring Their Nests

The Fascinating World of Bald Faced Hornets: Exploring Their Nests

Bald faced hornets, also known as Dolichovespula maculata, are a species of wasps that are native to North America. Despite their name, they are not true hornets but rather a type of yellowjacket wasp. These insects are known for their aggressive behavior and distinctive black and white coloring. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of bald faced hornets, particularly their nests, and address some common questions about these intriguing creatures.

Nest Construction and Appearance:
Bald faced hornets build their nests using a combination of chewed wood pulp and saliva. These nests are typically located high above the ground, often in trees, shrubs, or on the sides of buildings. The nests are made up of multiple layers of hexagonal cells, which serve as chambers for larvae development. A mature nest can reach the size of a basketball and may contain hundreds of individuals.

The outer layer of the nest is made from a papery substance that is weather-resistant, providing protection to the inner layers and the hornets themselves. This outer layer is what gives the nest its distinctive appearance, with its grayish color and characteristic teardrop shape.

Behavior and Social Structure:
Bald faced hornets are highly social insects, living in colonies that are organized in a hierarchical manner. The queen is the largest member of the colony and is responsible for laying eggs and maintaining the nest. The workers, which are sterile females, are responsible for foraging, nest construction, and defense.

These hornets are known for their aggressive nature and will vigorously defend their nests if they feel threatened. They are capable of delivering painful stings, which can be dangerous to those who are allergic. However, bald faced hornets are generally not interested in stinging humans unless they feel provoked or their nest is disturbed.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Are bald faced hornets dangerous?
Bald faced hornets can be dangerous if their nests are disturbed or if they feel threatened. Their stings are painful and can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.

2. How long do bald faced hornets live?
The lifespan of bald faced hornets varies depending on their role within the colony. Queens can live for several months, while workers typically live for a few weeks.

3. Do bald faced hornets make honey?
Unlike honeybees, bald faced hornets do not produce honey. They collect other insects and feed on nectar for sustenance.

4. Can bald faced hornets damage structures?
Bald faced hornets can cause damage to structures if their nests are built on or inside them. The chewing action they use to build their nests can weaken wooden structures over time.

5. How do bald faced hornets find food?
Bald faced hornets are predatory insects that feed on other insects, such as flies and spiders. They also consume nectar from flowers.

6. Can bald faced hornets be beneficial?
Despite their aggressive nature, bald faced hornets can be beneficial to the ecosystem. They help control populations of other insects and play a role in pollination.

7. Can bald faced hornets survive the winter?
Only the fertilized queens will survive the winter. The rest of the colony dies off when temperatures drop, and the queens will establish new colonies in the following spring.

8. Can bald faced hornets be relocated?
It is generally not recommended to relocate a bald faced hornet nest. Instead, it is best to contact a professional pest control service to safely remove the nest if it poses a threat.

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9. How can I prevent bald faced hornets from nesting near my home?
To prevent bald faced hornets from nesting near your home, remove potential nesting sites such as fallen trees or branches. Additionally, sealing any gaps or cracks in your home's exterior can help deter them from building nests.

10. Are bald faced hornets found outside of North America?
Bald faced hornets are native to North America and are not typically found outside of this region.

In conclusion, bald faced hornets are fascinating creatures that play an important role in the ecosystem. Their nest construction and behavior are intriguing to observe, but it is essential to exercise caution and respect their space. If you encounter a bald faced hornet nest in a problematic location, it is best to seek professional assistance to ensure its safe removal.

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