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
  • Typically appear in late summer months
  • Known to be more aggressive stinging insects that may sting when provoked

Bald-Faced Hornets in Eastern Tennessee

Bald-faced hornets greatly resemble their yellowjacket relatives. However, bald-faced hornets get their name from the ivory-white markings on their faces. 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 associated with landscaping features. Their sting can be painful, making it important to stay away from them.

Bald-Faced Hornet Habitat

Bald-faced hornet nests are often attached to a tree branch located in bushes, shrubbery, or a wooded area. However, they can also be attached to utility poles or under the eaves of houses, sheds, or other structures that provide protection. Nests will be at least three feet off the ground and as high as 60 feet or more. They are made of chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva, creating a gray-colored, paper-like material. Reaching up to 24″ in height and 18″ across, there is a single opening at the bottom to allow the hornets to fly in and out. Bald-faced hornet nests are built from scratch each year–they typically do not reuse nests year after year.

Bald-Faced Hornet Behavior & Stings

Bald-faced hornets can be beneficial in reducing the population of other pests, but they can be aggressive and will attack anyone or anything that invades their space.  The sting of a baldfaced hornet carries venom causing stings to hurt, itch, and swell for about 24 hours. Because these hornets have smooth stingers, they can sting over and over again, whereas other stinging insects, like honey bees, are only able to attack once before their stinger falls off. Of course, as with all other insect stings, humans are at risk for allergic reactions.

If you find a bald-faced hornet nest on your home or property, do not attempt to remove it on your own as this can aggravate the colony and cause the hornets to sting. Always contact your local wasp control experts for help.