Bald-Faced Hornet

Actual Size: 12 to15 mm

Characteristics: Black with a white pattern on the 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 appears in the late summer months.
  • Lives in colonies that may have between 100 to 400 members.
  • Known to be a more aggressive stinging insect that may sting when provoked.

Bald-Faced Hornets in Knoxville TN

The bald-faced hornet is a larger wasp that is oftentimes confused with yellowjackets. However, unlike the yellow-colored markings that most wasps have, bald-faced hornets possess ivory-white markings on their otherwise black bodies. These stinging insects are relatively large flying insects and will defend their nests aggressively when they feel there is a threat. These beneficial wasps live in colonies with thousands of individuals and would be a lesser threat to humans if they did not nest in structural voids, attics, and cavities associated with landscaping features. Unfortunately, they often choose to nest and live near residential areas here in Knoxville TN.

Bald-Faced Hornet Nests

Their nests are usually attached to a tree branch located in bushes, shrubbery, or a wooded area. However, they can also be attached to utility poles or under the eaves of houses, sheds, or other structures that provide protection. Nests will be at least three feet off the ground and as high as 60 feet or more. They are made of chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva, creating a gray-colored, paper-like material. Reaching up to 24″ in height and 18″ across, there is a single opening at the bottom to allow the hornets to fly in and out. Bald-faced hornets build new nests every year, as they do not want to re-use the previous nests from years prior.

Bald-Faced Hornet Habits & Dangers

Bald-faced hornets can be aggressive and their stings are venomous, causing 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.

As with many stinging insects, these pests will sting if they feel threatened or their nest is in danger. If you spot a nest forming on or near your property, always contact your local bee, wasp, and hornet experts for assistance.