A large hornet, about three quarters of an inch long, with black body and white markings. The rear ends with 3 white circles. The head is white, with black markings and black eyes, giving it the appearance of an evil robot from a science fiction future. Wings are narrow, transparent and brown. The nest is an untidy-looking paper sac, up to a foot across and 2 feet long, usually in a tree or shrub. They create the nest by chewing on plant fibers to make a paper. Adults hunt other insects and spiders for food, and also drink nectar from flowers. Larvae within the nest are fed prechewed insects and spiders.
Baldfaced hornets live in large colonies, where the female workers raise the queen's young. New queens and male drones fly off in autumn and mate. The mated queens spend the winter dormant and hiding, and start new colonies in the spring. The old colony perishes in the winter. Baldfaced hornets are very aggresive if their nest is disturbed, and are quidk to take offense if their nest is approached too closely. They are strong stingers and can sting through heavy clothing. Their sting is said to be very painful. The photographer here was very lucky.
Found in forested areas throughout Easten North America, southern Canada, the Rockies and the west coast, but absent from deserts and high plains. They can occasionally be seen in Wildwood gathering fiber for their nest or food for the colony. From time to time they nest in the Park. Do not approach a nest if you see one.
Easily idenified by the bold black and white markings and evil robotic faces. Most of its relatives are black and yellow.