Bald-faced Hornets: Locating the Nests

One of the greatest benefits of taking many nature walks in the same location year after year is a growing ability to identify patterns, to learn the WHEN and the WHERE of nature’s annual cycle.

Near the beginning of September, I expect to see the first of the 8 or more Bald-faced Hornet nests that I find every year in Eliza Howell Park

This year it was September 3.

Bald-faced Hornets are a type of social wasp (“social” here means living in a colony that has a queen and workers). They are fairly large and are an attractive black and white.

The construction of the nest was begun much earlier in the season by the queeen, the only one to survive the winter, but I do not see the nests until they are full size. The large nest (roughly basketball size, but shaped more like a football) hangs among tree leaves, usually well enough hidden (until the leves fall) that it is difficult to find despite the size.

In September, the entrance way, located near the bottom, is busy with traffic, as can be seen in this photo taken by Kevin Murphy.

Based on observations from previous years, I have had a good idea about WHEN to find the nests. But identifying the WHERE has been more difficult. They are constructed in a variety of deciduous trees in different locations in the park.

The last couple of years, though, I did notice one or two each year in the maple trees along the the entrance drive from Fenkell.

So this year, when it was time, I made a point of checking these trees very carefully.

During the first week in September, I found, in addition to the one pictured at the beginning of this post, the 4 others that are in this collage. All 5 are in these maple, from about 8 to 15 feet from the ground.

I will no doubt find this year’s other nests scattered around over many acres, but I have now identified some sort of a pattern regarding location. Next year my search will likely start here again and will include other similar maple trees

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