Baldfaced hornets aren’t really hornets at all. They actually belong to the yellowjacket family, living in colonies similar to those of honey bees and ants. The colony is located inside the nest, which is made of a paper-like material. The hornets chew wood fibers and mix it with saliva to make this nest, which features up to four tiers of combs within a thick outer shell that has several layers.

An opening at the bottom is where the hornets fly in and out. You’ll usually spot these nests in wooded areas, perhaps on a tree branch, or maybe on a shrub, a utility pole or even on the side of your house.

Life Cycle

Baldfaced hornets are large and black, featuring white- or cream-colored markings on the head and abdomen. Just like wasps, bees and ants, hornets have a four-stage life cycle in these stages:

  • Egg
  • Larva
  • Pupa
  • Adult

Hornets are natural predators that like to feed on insects, such as filth flies and blow flies. A colony of hornets lasts just one year. Each year, new hornets build a nest from scratch. Queens are the only colony members that can survive the winter. In spring, the queen chooses a nice place to live, then sets to work building a small nest to raise sterile female offspring.

These worker hornets start enlarging and maintaining the nest. They will also forage for food and care for the offspring while the queen’s sole job is to make more eggs.

By mid-summer, the nest is coming along nicely and thriving busily, with worker hornets total between 100 to 400 at peak time. In the fall, it’s time for the males and new queens to take over. They’ll abandon the old nest to mate, while the fertilized queen hibernates. The rest of the workers, the old queen, and the males will die off, either from freezing temperatures over the winter or simply due to old age.


Hornets are known for being aggressive, but really, they will only attack if their nest is threatened or if an individual feels threatened. Hornets will protect their colony at all costs, stinging a person or animal who comes within a few feet of it. The threat of attack is higher in well-traveled areas, such as along a walkway or near a doorway. If the nest is sufficiently away from human activity, leave it alone. If it is close to activity, call Cavanaugh’s for safe, effective pest removal.

Contact Cavanaugh’s Professional Termite and Pest Services

If you suspect you have a baldfaced hornet nest on your property that is threatening the safety of you and your family, contact us right away at one of our three convenient locations. We can provide prompt, effective removal so you can enjoy your yard once more.