Biology and Behavior
Bald-faced Hornets are actually wasps. They grow to about 3/4 inch long. These hornets are easy to recognize because of their black and white color pattern. Nests are made by chewing up strips of wood and mixing it with sticky saliva. One Bald-faced Hornet nest may hold up to 700 hornets. A nest is started by one female, which will become its queen. In the spring, she begins the nest by making a few cells out of paper in an out of the place up high, anywhere from 2 to 40 feet from the ground. She then lays an egg in each cell. When young wasp larvae hatch, the queen feeds them. Larva are fed chewed up insects. When the larvae are big enough, they cover themselves up in the cell and soon emerge as adult female workers. Workers take over all nest duties, and the queen's only job now is to lay more eggs. Workers build new layers of cells onto the nest, collect food, feed larvae, and protect the nest. Throughout the summer, the nest gets bigger, until it's about the size of a basketball. At the end of summer, or in early Fall, the queen lays eggs which will become females and males. These insects mate, and then all of the nest's hornets die (including the old queen), except the females who have mated. Mated females overwinter and start their own nests next Spring. They often burrow into an old tree stump to survive the cold. Old nests are abandoned. You can see old nests in Winter, hanging in trees when leaves have fallen.
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Rhode Island Bald-Faced Hornets
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