Saturday, May 28, 2016

Bald-faced Hornet

Catching wasps and hornets in my banding nets is not my favorite occupation. These insects tend to make knots out of the net. They are never happy. On 22 May 2016, I captured this Bald-faced Hornet, a type of yellowjacket. These aggressive wasps construct the giant paper nests that you occasionally see in trees. They fiercely defend these nests (King, pers. comm.). They repeatedly sting trespassers.

Bald-faced Hornets are found across the United States and southern Canada. The wasp in the photo is probably a worker. Queens lack “hair.” Workers are males and are produced by unfertilized eggs. Females have two sets of chromosomes. Queens control the number of workers by the number of unfertilized eggs they lay. If too many workers are produced, the queen kills the surplus male offspring (Wikipedia).

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