Bald faced hornets can be found in most parts of North America. While they are small compared to some of their larger wasp cousins, they pack a painful sting and they are relatively aggressive. They will often feel threatened to sting when people come too close to their nests.
What Are They?
Despite the name, bald faced hornets are not really hornets at all. They are actually wasps and quite social ones, at that. They’re easy to recognize with their distinctive black-and-white pattern. They tend to live in large colonies that can have anywhere from 100 to 400 members at a time with larger populations appearing in the late summer months when the insects are most active. They eat tree sap, various fruit juices and nectar from flowers, and they have even been observed killing other insects to feed to their larvae.
Where Do They Live?
The bald faced hornet can be found all over the United States, in parts of Canada, in Mexico, and in other locations around the world. They can be found in areas such as forest edges, meadows and even in public parks from time to time. Like most stinging insects, they build a habitat for their colonies in the form of a nest, but they do not reuse this nest which is another of their unusual traits. Their nests are generally three or more feet off of the ground in order to prevent them from being attacked by predators like raccoons, and they can grow to be more than two feet long and a foot in diameter.
Stings and Treatment
These wasps don’t have barbed stingers like a honeybee or even like some of their cousins. They are called “hornets” because of their smooth stingers that will allow them to sting over and over again when provoked. These stings are quite painful and will throb, itch and swell for about 24 hours on average. These insects pose a serious threat to individuals who have allergies to other stinging insects, too. If stung, individuals should immediately seek medical treatment if they have severe allergies, but people without allergies can simply clean the area and apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.
Getting Rid of Them
If a bald faced hornet nest is spotted in public or on private property, it is best to steer clear and allow it to be removed by professional exterminators. Again, these insects are very aggressive and are very well known to attack with very little provocation. Simply removing old nests is not enough, either, since they will abandon their old nests in the winter and build new ones in the spring. Professional pest control services use a variety of techniques but in almost all cases, they will don protective gear. Since the wasps cannot see the color red, putting red crepe paper over a flashlight for illumination allows the insect control specialists to essentially sneak up on them. Then, a foaming agent or insecticide is carefully placed inside the nest.
Bald faced hornets can pose quite a problem for home and business owners. Fortunately, professional insect control experts have the tools and the know-how to safely remove the threat. If you see a nest, be sure to steer clear and contact someone who can safely take care of the problem.