Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Hornet's Nest

I've seen a lot of wasps this year: paper wasps, baldfaced hornets, yellow jackets. My approach to wasps, as well as bees, is to respect their nest sites, give them a wide berth, and leave them alone as much as possible.

Just the name of baldfaced hornets sounds ominous. They are actually not a true hornet, but rather a black and white yellow jacket, so named for their white or "baldface" head.

I marvel at the the large egg-shaped paper nest of baldfaced hornets. These are most noticeable after leaf-off, but I've seen several just in the last few weeks. Here is one on the branch of a large while oak tree overhanging a meadow of goldenrod, milkweed, and asters.
My parents have a lovely baldfaced hornet nest, I think, on the side of their house. Other family members are not so keen.

As long as you don't stir up the hornet's nest, all will be fine. After the first hard freeze, all the hornets except the newly mated females (future queens), will die. The future queens abandon their birth nest and bury into the ground or a log for the winter, waiting until spring to start a new paper nest of their own somewhere else.

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