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 Baldfaced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)

Baldfaced hornet | Dolichovespula maculata photo
Baldfaced Hornet - Dolichovespula maculata
Photograph by Marvin Smith. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Baldfaced hornet | Dolichovespula maculata photo
Dolichovespula maculata, Bald-Faced Hornet, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Photograph by Fritz Geller-Grimm. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

The Baldfaced hornet is a large black and white North American yellowjacket wasp, but is not a significant pest. Unlike most other yellowjackets which are black and yellow, it is mainly black with white markings on the head and thorax, and white bands towards the tail of the abdomen. Queens and worker wasps sometimes have white spots on the third abdominal segment. The wings are dark smoky color and the legs and antennae are black. They build a large oval-shaped paper nest with the entrance low on the side. Nests can grow to a diameter of about 30cm or more. It is less aggressive than many other species of yellowjackets, and because it usually nests in trees, it is less of a risk of stinging people (although it can sting if nest is disturbed).

Other Names
White-faced hornet, White-tailed hornet

the queen is about 2cm long, workers are about 14mm long

nests above ground in trees or shrubs

Baldfaced hornets prey on insects and arthropods, including flies, caterpillars and spiders. Also feed on fruit. The adults feed chewed arthropods to the larvae. They can be beneficial in controlling pest species.

The queen wasp lays her eggs in the nest where they hatch into grub-like larvae. The larvae grow within the nest until they pupate, and after some time, emerge as adult wasps. The queen wasp hibernates underground or under logs or in tree hollow over winter and emerges in spring to start the colony again. All the other wasps die before winter.

Dolichovespula maculata is found throughout much of North America except the dry mid west and west of the United States, and the coldest far northern parts of Canada.

Common Name:Baldfaced hornet

Relatives in same Genus
  Aerial yellowjacket (D. arenaria)

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