The other day we noticed a baldfaced hornet investigating a conifer nearby. Seeing as it is fall we knew that is was not gathering wood pulp to build a nest. We talked about other things it might be doing, then set out to find some answers. While we have investigated these wasps before (after a family member was stung multiple times), we learned a bit more about these rather large wasps, who happen to be yellowjackets and not hornets at all!
Read on to find out a bit more about baldfaced hornets as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, research binder, or lap book.
Some Interesting Things to Know About Baldfaced Hornets
- Baldfaced hornets are yellow jackets, not hornets. (The European hornet is the only hornet in North America. It was accidentally introduced in the mid-1800′s.)
- They are black with a white face and three white stripes.
- They are common in the southeastern parts of the U.S. but are found though out most of the U.S. and southern Canada (with the exception of the drier midwest).
- These wasps are larger than other wasps averaging about 3/4 inch long (with the queen a bit larger than the workers).
- Queens are hairless while the worker wasps have hairs on their body.
- Fertilized queens overwinter in a sheltered spot and begin nest building on their own in the spring.
- The nests are egg shaped hanging paper nests that are built with wood pulp and saliva.
- Colonies can average 300 – 400 wasp but some grow as large as 700 wasps.
- They feed on insects, spiders, fruit pulp, tree sap and raw meat. Their larvae are feed a diet of chewed up since parts, including other yellow jackets.
- Like other wasps they can sting multiple times but usually only do so to protect themselves or their nest.
- Baldfaced hornets have a very smart fly mimic.
More information can be found using the great fact sheets found here and here.
Check back tomorrow for the PDF to go with this post. Thanks for your patience with us!
P.S. After our research we concluded that the one we were observing was probably nipping some tree sap from this little spruce. If you know something more please share!