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


  • Typically appear in late summer months
  • Known to be more aggressive and may sting when provoked
  • Have smooth stingers that enable them to sting repeatedly

Bald-Faced Hornets in Santa Fe and Albuquerque NM

The bald-faced hornet greatly resembles its yellowjacket cousin. It is known for its dark color and ivory-white markings on its face. These large flying insects will defend their nests aggressively when they feel there is a threat. Bald-faced hornets live in colonies with thousands of individuals. They tend to build their nests in residential areas, making them a major threat for people in the Santa Fe area when nests are built on homes and commercial buildings.

Bald-Faced Hornet Habitat

Bald-faced hornet workers often build their large paper nest around areas where humans live, work and play. These hornets build gray colored, egg-shaped nests that can become quite large and appear very menacing. Nests are created in spring and early summer by worker hornets chewing on natural wood fibers. Bald-faced hornets will construct nests in trees, under eaves, around light structures on buildings and inside children’s playhouses. When the nest is finished, it will be the size of a football or basketball. It is important to never approach a bald-faced hornet nest, even when you suspect it is empty.

Bald-Faced Hornet Behavior & Threats

Bald-faced hornets are known as one of the more aggressive types of wasps. Their stings are venomous, and can cause pain and swelling for about 24 hours. 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.

Bald-faced hornets will sting when they feel their nest is threatened. If you notice a nest forming near or around your property, contact your local wasp control team.