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


  • Live in colonies between 100 and 400 members
  • Make large exposed football-sized nests in trees, shrubs, or on siding of home
  • These hornets have smooth stingers, which enable them to sting more than once

Bald-Faced Hornets in Virginia

The bald-faced hornet resembles its yellowjacket relatives, but they are many different wasps. They are named after the distinctive ivory-white colored markings on their faces. These wasps are rather large and are known to defend their nest aggressively when they feel threatened. They also can attack without being provoked, making them one of the more dangerous types of stinging insects. The biggest threat is that they tend to nest in structural voids, attics, and cavities in residential areas.

Bald-Faced Hornet Nests & Habitat

Bald-faced hornets often build their large papery nests around areas where people live, work, and play. These nests are gray in color and egg-shaped. Some can grow to be quite large, with dimensions nearing 24 inches in length and 30 inches in diameter. Most, however, tend to be the size of a football or basketball. Nests are created in spring and early summer by worker insects 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. 

Bald-Faced Hornet Behavior & Threats

As with most stinging insects, a sting from a bald-faced hornet is 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. 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.

As with many stinging insects, these pests will sting if they feel threatened or their nest is in danger. If you notice a bald-faced hornet problem forming near your property in Virginia, always contact your local pest control experts.