Bald Faced Hornets are also known as White Faced Hornets and are generally less aggressive than their cousins the yellow jackets but will defend their nest and sting repeatedly if disturbed. This large hornet is almost an inch in length and it’s white facial markings are what gives it its name. Nests are often unnoticed in the spring but by late fall can be as long as 3 feet and cause great alarm. The queen begins the nest and lays her first few eggs. The paper nest begins to grow as workers emerge and will have 3 to 4 tiers of combs when complete. Multiple layers of paper made from chewed wood and saliva that is high in starch makes their nest extremely sturdy. There is generally one hole at the bottom for entry and exit and the football shape makes for easy identification of this specie. The nest is abandoned in the winter and never reused.
The nest starts from just one fertilized queen each year. Colony growth is slow to begin with but increases as the summer goes on. Even at their peak there may only be 300 to 400 hornets. In the fall, drones and new queens are produced and leave the nest to mate. The fertilized queens seek a place to hibernate and the drones, workers and old queen die with freezing temperatures. In the spring the new fertilized queen constructs a small nest, lays a few eggs and the cycle begins again.
Treatment and Elimination
White Faced Hornet eradication can be dealt in a few different ways. If the nest is in an out of the way area you can choose leave it alone until winter and cut the nest down for a nice decoration for your den. If chemical control is necessary it’s important to have the correct spray or equipment so you can treat the nest from a distance. Wasp freeze aerosols that shoot jet streams of spray will be needed or a pump or power sprayer.
ALWAYS check for more than one entry hole before treating. Most nests have just the one at the bottom but at times there can be more than one. Treating at night is recommended but this can be done during the day. Depending on what you use, stay back as far as you can while still being effective but not closer than 10 feet for safety. Aim your spray at the entry hole and thoroughly douse the hole. This will kill any guards at the entry. Still spraying, coat the paper nest completely while re-spraying the entry hole. When sufficiently soaked the hornets inside will be dead or dying. Leave the nest alone for a few days as not all hornets may have been in the nest at the time of treatment. After you’re sure they are all dead you can cut the nest down and dispose of it.
Another method is often used for nests attached to branches but it’s highly encouraged to leave this up to the pros. Done at night you can approach the nest and quickly place a piece of duct tape over the entry hole. A plastic bag is pulled up over the paper nest, tied off and can be cut away from the branch and taken away.
Since this hornet is capable of repeated stings it is highly suggested that you consider the use of a professional exterminator or bee keeper for its elimination.