Chances are you’ve heard of the term “a bald-faced lie,” which is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it. The phrase comes from 17th-century British usage referring to those without facial hair as being seen as acting in an unconcealed or open way. You probably have not heard of the bald-faced hornet, though.
The bald-faced hornet is not actually a hornet. It’s a yellowjacket and it builds nests in bushes and trees and on the outside of buildings. These nests look like grey paper in the shape of a football.
Will you find them in Dunkirk and other areas of Southwestern New York? Definitely. Indeed, bald-faced hornets are found all over North America.
If you were to view one up close, you’d notice ivory-white markings on the face, as well as white markings on the thorax, legs and abdomen.
Fertilized queens stay in protected places such as hollow trees or attics in buildings during the winter, waiting for springtime. Come spring, they begin to build a nest using cellulose from rotting wood. The queen chews the wood and her saliva makes it pasty, such that the papery material can be used to build the nest. Meanwhile, she’ll deposit some eggs in the nest, feed the larvae, and then her first brood become the worker bees who continue to build the nest, collect food, feed larvae, and protect the nest. Over the spring and summer months, this colony of bald-faced hornets can grow to house up to 300 individuals!
If you see what looks like a grey football shaped papery “nest” in your yard, up to two feet tall and one and a half feet wide, you probably have a bald-faced hornet nest. These insects help pollinate flowers and generally don’t annoy humans. However, if their nest is “too close for comfort” to your house, you might want to call Comfort Pest Control to remove it safely and properly.