Jimmy Smith called The Waynedale News Friday, September 9. He wanted to report a very large hornets nest at his residence at 3710 Elmhurst Drive. Smith said, “It’s the biggest hornet’s nest I ever saw.”
“Are they bald-faced hornets?” I asked.
“I don’t know what they are, but they’re big. I was trying to trim my trees and they started buzzing around my head.”
I grabbed the camera and went over to have a look. On my way, I called Rob Jackson of Jackson Pest Management. “What do you know about bald-faced hornets?” I asked. He told me quite a bit. They are easy to recognize by the white spots on their head and antennae. They make their nest by chewing up strips of wood and mixing it with their saliva. A nest is started by one female, which will become the queen. In the spring she begins by making a few cells in a tree with one egg in each cell. When the young larvae hatch the queen feeds them chewed up insects. I had seen hornets hovering over garbage cans that were attracting yellow jackets. Every now and then a hornet would attack a yellow jacket, roll it up in a ball and carry it back to the hornet nest to feed to her larvae.
When the hornet larvae are large enough they pupate and then emerge as adult female workers. Workers take over all nest duties and the queen’s only job is to lay more eggs. These female worker hornets build new layers of cells onto the nest, collect food, feed larvae and protect the nest. All the workers that hatch are female until fall when the queen lays eggs that will be both female and male. These insects mate and then all the hornets die, including the queen, except the females that have mated. Mated female’s winter over in cracks of trees or old buildings. Old nests are abandoned and you can see old nests in winter, hanging in trees when leaves have fallen.
Jimmy Smith showed me around to his backyard where I took a couple of pictures. The nest didn’t look that big to me, but then I wasn’t up in the tree trimming branches with them buzzing around my head.