Hornets are bad news. They are common in fiery situations where one gets the full brunt of a bad decision. Hence the phrase, ‘Don’t poke a hornet’s nest’.
The bald faced hornet gets its name from its shiny, black and white head. The largest of its species, the bald faced hornet is in fact not a true hornet, but a wasp. It belongs to the yellow jacket wasp family, with noticeable differences in pigmentation.
Bald faced hornets are distributed throughout the United States and Southern Canada. They are most common in South Eastern part of the United States. Forested areas and vegetation provide a suitable habitat for the bald faced hornets to build nests.
Their nests are located in trees and bushes, rocks, overhangs and human buildings. Bald faced hornets are very aggressive and easily agitated. If a human strays within the hive’s territory, bald faced hornets will not hesitate to attack.
What bald faced hornets eat largely depends on the stage or cycle they are in. Worker bees are omnivorous. They will prey on flies, caterpillars and spiders while feeding on flower nectar.
Adult bald faced hornets are carnivorous and prey on different insect types. They have also been observed scavenging for raw meat, spiders and fruit.
A bald faced hornet can squirt venom from its stinger into the eyes of prey or nest intruders. This makes the eyes water and causes temporary blindness.
Queens are responsible for building new colonies. A colony’s life cycle runs for close to four months. New nests are founded during spring and early summer by queens born and fertilized the previous season.
The queen selects a location, begins building it herself before laying the first eggs. She will also feed the growing larvae, which become the working force that expands the nest.
In late summer, the queen lays eggs which will become drones and new queens. These fly off to mate when mature. The queen dies with the drones and workers at the end of the cycle.
A full sized nest is the size of a basketball and shaped like an inverted tear drop.
Incredibly, bald faced hornets have good facial memory and recognition. If an intruder happens to pass by a second time, the bald faced hornets will attack.
Bald faced hornets love to eat bees. The bees provide protein for future queens and sweetness of sugary honey. A bald faced hornet is nearly five times the size of a typical bee. It would take a small amount of giant hornets to wipe out an entire honey bee colony.
Bald faced hornets prefer to eat live prey and watch it struggle for its life. Don’t be next on the menu.
In Japan, bald faced hornets are considered a delicacy. The hornet’s larvae is eaten raw or deep fried.
Bald faced hornets are attracted to light. The best way to get rid of one stranded in the house is to shut out the light. Open a window with an outside light.