Bald-Faced Hornet

Actual Size: 12-15 mm

Characteristics: Black with white pattern on face

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Live in paper nests that are at least three feet off the ground, often in trees or on the sides of buildings


  • Known to be especially aggressive and can sting repeatedly
  • Appear in the summertime in residential areas
  • Live in colonies of 100-400 members

Bald-Faced Hornets in Vermont

Bald-faced hornets are unique wasps that greatly resemble yellowjackets. However, they are different in several ways. Bald-faced hornets are darker and color and are missing the distinctive yellow markings. Instead, they have white/ivory-colored markings on their face. Bald-faced hornets are relatively large flying insects and will defend their nests aggressively when they feel there is a threat. These beneficial wasps live in colonies with thousands of individuals and would be a lesser threat to humans if they did not nest in structural voids, attics, and cavities.

Bald-Faced Hornet Nests or Hives

Bald-faced hornets tend to construct their nests in residential areas, which is why they’re such a common problem for homeowners here in Vermont. Their gray colored, egg-shaped nests can become quite large. Nests are created in spring and early summer by worker hornets chewing on natural wood fibers. Bald-faced hornets will construct nests in trees, under eaves, around light structures on buildings and inside children’s playhouses. When the nest is finished, it will be the size of a football or basketball. They are very noticeable due to their unique color. If you notice a nest, it’s important to be cautious and avoid approaching in case their are stinging insects inside.

Bald-Faced Hornet Habits and Stings

Bald-faced hornets scavenge in trash receptacles and forage upon food and beverages consumed outdoors. They also consume ripe fruit in gardens, farms and vineyards. In the autumn, the combination of cooler temperatures and reduced food stimulates newly emerged reproductive wasps to seek warm shelter, and they are more likely to invade homes. They also can become aggressive in their search for food. Their stings are venomous, and can cause pain and swelling for about 24 hours. People who are allergic to bee stings may have similar reactions to a bald-faced hornet sting.

If you notice a nest forming on or near your property, always contact a licensed wasp control professional in your area.