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


  • There are usually between 60 to 100 hornets in a nest the size of a basketball
  • Make large exposed football-sized nests in trees, shrubs, or on siding of home
  • These hornets have smooth stingers, enabling them to sting multiple times

Bald-Faced Hornets in Southern California

Bald-faced hornets are large and can be one of the more aggressive types of wasps. They get their name from the unique white-ivory color markings on their face. They are black in color and range from 1 to 1½ inches long. Bald-faced hornets are much thicker in stature than paper wasps and have two body sections with one pair of wings. These hornets are considered to be not quite as aggressive or difficult to control as yellowjackets, but they are still regarded as dangerous due to the size of the insect and relatively more intrusive sting.

Bald-Faced Hornet Habitat

A bald-faced hornet nest will typically be in a tree or shrub and be a classic, oval shape. The nests are made of paper (a solution of insect saliva and chewed material) and have several tiers of eggs inside. These nests are usually about the size of a basketball by the time they are noticed by anyone and are likely to be found in rhododendron bushes. The entry/exit hole is usually at the apex and usually at the bottom of the nest structure. There are usually between 60 to 100 hornets in a nest the size of a basketball.

Bald-Faced Hornet Threats

A sting from a bald-faced hornet is painful. 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 a nest is located near a residence, it’s important to contact your local wasp control experts.