Bald Faced Hornet

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Wasps, Pacific Northwest

Bald Faced Hornet
Bald Faced Hornet, Photo By Bud Logan

Bald faced hornets build large nests and defend them boldly, these hornets are a member of the wasp family. Although we call them hornets they actually are not a hornet but one of the many types of yellow jackets found in the pacific northwest.

These hornets are valuable to us because they kill many pests like flies, caterpillars, and spiders. But when they build their nests close to us, we tend to get very aggressive towards them.

The Bald Faced Hornet are different from other yellow jackets because of their white and black color as opposed to  yellow and black pattern of most ho. The most notable feature of this wasp is the white marked head. They also have three white stripes on the end of their body.

Their nests are made up of one queen and many female workers. In the early spring, mated queens emerge from over winter sites, such as stumps, logs, and under loose bark.

Once she finds a suitable location, she begins construction of a paper nest, lays eggs, and collects food for the young. After the first generation of wasps reach adulthood, they take over the job of building the nest, foraging for food, water, and care for the hive.

The nests often hang in trees where they go unnoticed until the leaves have dropped in the fall. Nests can also be built on eves of buildings, on windows, in attics or on other artificial structures.  Nests are made of layers of hexagonal combs, similar in shape to those of honeybee nests and covered in a mottled gray paper envelope. The raw materials for the paper are from vegetable fibers, such as rotten or weathered wood, dead plants, or even man made materials such as cardboard and newspaper. The fibers are chewed and mixed with saliva to make a pulp which is then formed into place.

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