Occasionally, our office gets a frantic call from someone who has found a hornet’s nest on their house or in a nearby tree. While finding a nest may be unnerving, this wasp does provide a benefit to their surroundings, but can be a concern if they are near areas where people are close by.
Even though called a hornet, the baldfaced hornet is actually a type of yellow jacket. Unlike the yellow and black yellow jackets seen around garbage or discarded soda cans, baldfaced hornets are white and black in color, and prefer flies, spiders and caterpillars as a food source.
Usually found in trees and shrubs, nests can be built on the eves of buildings or in attics. Nests can be over a foot around and almost 2 feet from top to bottom, and are made of plant remains that have been processed by the workers.
Known for their defense of the nest, if the nest is close to frequent human activity or if there is a medical threat to persons who may be allergic to venom, control is warranted. Professional services should be utilized in cases where people may be allergic to potential stings, or are just uncomfortable with the procedure.
Control of the nest should be done at night when activity is low. Wearing a hat, gloves, protective eyewear, long pants and boots, use an insecticide labeled for wasps and hornets that will shoot a spray from a distance. If using a flashlight at night, do not shine the light directly at the nest. Make sure spray covers the entrance. Leave the nest in place for several days before removing, and then put it into a garbage bag for disposal.
If the nest is not in a place where the nest poses a threat, it should be left alone. Baldfaced hornets will be killed naturally after a few frosts in the fall. The nest can be removed during the winter, or it will decompose on its own.