Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bald Faced Hornet Nest


Large Bald Faced Hornet nest in a tree with some nice bird calls in the background. These are dangerous hornets and they typically build their nests in trees in the wild and near houses so if one accidentally disturbs them while mowing or trimming trees you won't outrun them. The worker hornets here are diligently making the nest even bigger. When found away from any human habitation like this nest its best just to leave them alone as they are in fact quite beneficial by preying on other harmful insects - all in the balance of Nature. Interestingly, if you are quiet you can film them quite closely as here with a cell phone - they have guard hornets posted who are always on the lookout for anything threatening so best to give these nest a wide berth.

Dolichovespula maculata is a eusocial wasp of the cosmopolitan family Vespidae. Its colloquial names include the bald-faced hornet, bald hornet, white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, blackjacket, and bull wasp. This species is a yellowjacket wasp, not a true hornet (genus Vespa). Colonies contain 400 to 700 workers, the largest recorded colony size in its genus, Dolichovespula. It builds a characteristic hanging paper nest. Workers aggressively defend their nest by repeatedly stinging invaders.

Dolichovespula maculata is distributed throughout the United States and Southern Canada, but is most common in the southeastern United States. Males in this species are haploid and females are diploid. Worker females can therefore lay eggs which develop into males. Matricide might occur after sufficient workers have been raised and queen-destined eggs have been laid, in order to give workers a reproductive advantage. The sting hurts intensely when first stung and will get a bump but in a couple hours it will not be there.
Baldfaced hornets are distinguished from other yellowjackets by their white and black coloring. It has a white or "baldfaced" head, which is the source of its colloquial namesake. These wasps also have three white stripes at the end of their bodies. They are notably larger than other species of Dolichovespula, as adults average about 19 millimetres (0.75 in) in length. Queen and worker wasps have similar morphologies. However, workers are covered by small hairs while the queen remains hairless. Queens are always larger than workers in their colonies, though size distributions can vary in different nests and workers in one colony might be as large as a queen in a different one.

D. maculata create egg-shaped, paper nests up to 360 millimetres (14 in) in diameter and 580 millimetres (23 in) in length. Nests are layered hexagonal combs covered by a mottled gray paper envelope. Bald-Faced Hornets create this paper envelope by collecting and chewing naturally occurring fibers. The wood fiber mixes with their saliva to become a pulpy substance that they can then form into place.

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Bald Faced Hornet Nest