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You've probably heard of bald-headed, but never bald-faced. This comes from the fact that their bodies are mostly black while their face is mostly white, or 'bald'. Wings are smoky black.
Bald faced hornets are found throughout the United States.
Bald-faced hornets have never heard of recycling. They don't believe in reusing their nests the next year. Nests are gray and full of many compartments, with a papery outer covering. They are hung near the ground or else very high, in trees, shrubs, vines, overhangs, sheds, or utility poles. Depending on how outgoing the hornets are, they nest in the open or well-hidden. Nests can be as long as 24 inches, with a diameter of 14 inches.
Snow-queen: only the newly-hatched queen survives the winter. She hibernates somewhere protected, while the rest of the colony dies. They are fairly sociable, unless you disturb the nest or aggravate them. Queens lay fertilized eggs, while workers consist of sterile females, and males that hatch from unfertilized eggs in late summer.
In spring, the new queen builds a nest from chewed wood. Talk about building an entire colony from scratch; that's exactly what she has to do. The queen must lay an egg in each compartment or cell, and then raise the first offspring herself. She feeds the larvae protein from flower nectar and other insects. It takes a whole month for the first workers to emerge, but they get right down to work, taking over the feeding and nest building so the queen can concentrate on her egg laying. Once the nest is finished, it will have 3-5 combs or clusters (of several hundred cells each), which are attached one below the other. At its peak, the nest will be buzzing with 100-400 workers. When the colony goes into decline, larger cells are built to raise new queens and males, which will leave the nest to mate.
Bald is beautiful — not harmful. Although having a nest nearby may be pesky, they actually eat many pest insects you'd rather not deal with.
As these insects sting protecting their nest, special handling is required. In some cases, it is best to perform treatment at night when the insects are in their nest. Aerosol or dust products are the most effective. In some cases, the applicator should wear protective equipment, as poor technique can aggravate the insects and provoke them to sting.
Sometimes the property owner may not be able to eliminate the nest, as it is generally inaccessible and contact with control material is necessary.
Professional exterminators, however, are equipped with protective bee-suits, appropriate control measures and application equipment that ensure overall safety. Once the insects have been controlled, entry points in the structure should be sealed if nest was located there.
If you attempt to control these insects and make an application, be sure it is registered for the target pest/location. Read the entire label prior to use. Follow all label directions, restrictions, and precautions.
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