August 25

Neighborhood wildlife alert – this time for bald-faced hornets



Phil and his daughter Jenna found this nest in the traffic circle at Northeast 91st Street and 8th Avenue Northeast.

“It is the size of a basketball and very active. Amazing how fast they grow,” he writes.

He – and we – believe it is a nest of bald-faced hornets, and Dennis Paulson, director emeritus of The Slater Museum of Natural History,confirms.

Photos courtesy Phil Borgnes

We’re wondering if it’s still there, though. A drive-by early this a.m., before the hornets were active, didn’t immediately produce a basketball in that tree.

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Sara W

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  1. These hurt so much! I have been trying to recover from a bad instantaneous sting. My hand, now arm are hurting. I almost did need to use my EpiPen. They are totally aggressive and sting with no provocation. Help!

  2. Those nests usually contain only 2-3 bees per cubic inch. Chances are that this colony is less than 40.

    But! They’ll make a whole lot of little colonies in an area. Check the cracks in your siding, up in the eaves of your shed.

    They do have a purpose, agreed, but they can also get angry when you try to do yardwork near their nest. Gas mowers really tick them off.

    Not nearly as bad as the gas engine leaf blowers tee me off though!

  3. Bald-faced hornets feed on flower nectar (and are considered minor pollinators), fruit juice, tree sap, and a variety of insects such as mosquitoes, caterpillars, flies and bees. Aside from bees, those bugs are pests.

    In return they are a food source for birds, spiders, frogs and turtles – almost anything that eats bugs. We have all those critters around here (if you consider Thornton Creek).

    Interestingly, racoons will seek out hornet nests later in the season when there is less activity and tear the nest apart, feeding on the adults and larvae. So hey, this might be a reason for the masked bandits to forage someplace other than your yard!

    Abandoned nests may serve as winter shelter for some species of birds.

    I wouldn’t argue about destroying a nest that is in close proximity to human activity (a back yard where children play).

    But a nest in the middle of a traffic island? I guess that should be left up to the person(s) that maintain the landscaping, because they are likely the only ones that could have a problem with the hornets.

    Oh wait – maybe one of our notorious Maple Leaf speeders might crash into this island. I say, let ’em deal with the hornets, lol.

  4. I would question what purpose hornets serve in an ecosystem and compare that to stinging the small child as mentioned above.

  5. On the other hand we could just leave them alone and steer clear of them, since they are part of the natural habitat and perform various useful functions within the ecosystem we live in. They don’t sting people unless they perceive a threat, no one is likely to get close enough to this nest to cause that sort of problem. It’s not like it’s in your backyard.

  6. Sounds like someone needs to swing by Ace hardware and pick up a can of long range hornet spray. Dress up in long pants, long sleeves, and a hood and unload on that nest.

    Of course I would volunteer for the sake of the neighborhood, but I am working in Alabama which makes it a little tough 🙂

  7. Those hornets are aggressive and territorial. We had a nest in a hedge next to a garden area several years ago. One came out and stung my daughter on top of her head repeatedly when we were out planting pumpkin seeds. Until that nest is relocated, take care and carry your EpiPen if you need one.

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