Hornet Nest Removal and Relocation
The black and white Bald Faced Hornet (Dolichvespula Muculata) that appears each Summer across the North Shore area is not actually a “true” member of the Hornet Family, but the largest of our indigenous, social Yellow Jacket Wasps.
Bald Faced Hornets become active each year in the early spring (March-April) when the fertile Queen comes out of her underground winter den and begins to forage on flies and other insects, including smaller wasps and bees, while she scouts for a nesting site for the coming year. The new colony will typically build up its population, through the Spring and Summer months (May-Sept), to an average number of 700 members. During the cooler weather of the Autumn (late Oct.) the colony will produce short lived male wasps and fertile females that will then mate and seek out hibernation dens for the winter.The entire colony will eventually die off in mid to late November when the prey insects have all disappeared.
This type of “hornet” is a predator species that hunts other live insects for food and to feed to it’s young, it can also be seen occasionally feeding on nectar rich plants for a quick energy boost when needed, making it an accidental pollinator. The importance of the Bald Faced Hornet to our local ecosystems is that of an Apex species, one that helps to control the population levels of the other, less powerful species.
Conservation of the Bald Faced Hornet though-out the North Shore area is an important part of improving the sustainability of our community within its awesome natural environment and reducing our dependence on chemicals, and pesticides to control the population levels of unwanted species of insects.
Do not approach a colony of Bald Faced Hornets, they are very defensive of their nesting sites, these large “hornets” can each sting many times and will follow the perceived attacker for a significant distance once their defense of the nest has begun. Bald Faced Hornets build an aerial type nest similar to many other members of the Yellow Jacket Wasp family, using chewed wood fibers and saliva liquids to form both the honey-comb shaped brood chambers and the outer paper-like protective cover. Bald Faced Hornets generally select locations in trees to build their nests, at higher elevations than most other Yellow Jacket Wasp types, and often are not discovered until the leaves fall from the tree in the Autumn.
The much smaller Black Jacket Wasp (Vespula Consobrina) is also a hunting rather than scavenging type of Yellow Jacket Wasp and is sometimes mistaken for it’s larger relative. The Black Jacket Wasp is primarily a forest dwelling, ground or cavity nesting species with a quite small colony population (approx. 100) and is generally active for a short period in the late Summer when the prey insect populations are at their highest levels. This small mimic of the Bald Faced Hornet appears to be taking advantage of the fierce reputation of its larger relative to go about its life-cycle unmolested by it’s more numerous yellow cousins. Another imitator of the Bald Faced Hornet is the Parasitic Wasp (Dolichovespula adulterina) which does not build its own nest but enters the nest of a Yellow Jacket colony and kills off the existing queen and replaces her, so occasionally both a black and white colored, and a yellow colored Yellow Jacket Wasp type may be seen in the same colony.