Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bald-faced Hornet

We found this Hornet's nest in Shawnee State Forest yesterday while hiking with Janet Creamer. It was just a few feet off the ground. Since there appeared to be little or no activity, we ventured closer for a picture. Janet said that most of the time, these Hornet's will leave people alone unless they feel threatened. If a Bald-faced Hornet, Dolichovespula maculata, would happen to land on you, DO NOT swat at it or kill it. That individual will send out a chemical that alerts the rest of the hive, to go into attack mode. Generally, they are not as aggressive as the Yellowjacket and if you leave it alone, it will most likely just fly away.

Their nests are works of art. The location is selected by the Queen. Worker's chew up bits of wood mixed with saliva to form a paste that is spread with their mandibles and legs to form a football shaped paper nest. As winter approaches, the wasps die – except any just-fertilized queens. The nest itself is generally abandoned by winter, and not reused. In the Spring, Queen's will begin the cycle again.

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