What’s the Difference Between Yellow Jackets and Bald Faced Hornets?

Not all wasps are created equal. Although you might think yellow jackets and bald faced hornets are hard to tell apart, there are many differences that can help you determine which pest you are dealing with.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets get their name from their yellow and black bodies and are also known as predatory social wasps. They like sweet and sugary snacks, so keeping drinks inside can help you avoid attracting them to the areas you and your family gather outside.

    • Coloring: With the traditional yellow and black coloring, yellow jackets are often confused with bees.

    • Season: Yellow jacket season traditionally starts in May in New England and lasts through September or October. The worker population grows to maximum size in late summer or early fall – which is the time of year they are most likely to sting. Colonies can host 1,000 or more yellow jackets at a time.

    • Nests: Yellow jacket nests are most often built underground and have a single entrance. They sometimes build nests inside building walls, under porches or steps, in sidewalk cracks and at the base of trees. They sometimes build aerial nests in low-hanging branches or the corners of buildings.

    • Stings: Yellow jackets are much more aggressive and unlike honeybees, they do not lose their stinger, so they can sting numerous times.

Bald faced Hornets

Bald faced hornets go by many names: white faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, bald faced yellow jacket, and bull wasp, to name a few. Although considered a hornet because of its large size and nest, this insect is more closely related to the yellow jacket wasp. These pests love to eat soft-bodied insects like caterpillars and are also known for their memory and can seek out an intruder.

    • Coloring: Bald faced hornets are black in color with a face marked with white. They are longer than yellow jackets.

    • Season: Like the yellow jacket, bald faced hornet season traditionally starts in May in New England and lasts through September or October.

    • Nests: In the spring, bald faced hornets make their nests in tree hollows and on dense shrubs and trees. Nests tend to be off the ground to avoid attacks from raccoons or other animals. Queens looking for somewhere to overwinter may look indoors through gaps in a roof or under an eave. Their nests are somewhat of an engineering masterpiece made of hexagonal combs wrapped in paper-like material. And they grow larger as the colony expands, sometimes home to as many as 700 hornets.

    • Stings: Bald faced hornets are known to be highly protective of their nests and will aggressively attack intruders. In addition, bald faced hornets are known to be very aggressive and can attack in groups, injecting large amounts of venom. They also have a smooth stinger that can sting repeatedly with no damage to the insect.

Integrated Pest Management

Signs of Infestation

For both pests, seeing nests of the workers are the common signs you have an infestation. Since both of these pests can be aggressive, it’s important to call in a pest control expert. The longer you wait, the larger the colonies will get and the more damage they can cause — not to mention the harder they are to eradicate. If you think you have yellow jackets or bald faced hornets, contact the extermination professionals at Ford’s Hometown Services.

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