Montana Outdoors

October 5, 2008

Bald-faced hornet

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: , — montucky @ 4:17 pm

Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life, but until today I had never had the honor of meeting one of these interesting little critters. What a surprise it was as I was following a deer trail through some very thick growth down by the river to come across this huge nest back in the brush.

Bald-faced hornet nest

It measured 12 1/2 inches in height.

Bald-faced hornet nest

One of the residents happened to be home and posed nicely for me.

Bald-faced hornet

Goldenrod pollen is one if their favorite foods and sure enough, this was growing near by.


Bald-faced hornets Dolichovespula maculata are not true hornets, but are actually wasps in the genus Vespula. HERE is an interesting website about them.


  1. Comparing that fellow to the scale in the previous photo, he’s at least a foot long. If that’s true, I’m moving to a different planet.

    And not the one from which I just returned. They had no cheese. None.

    Great shots.


    Comment by Pinhole — October 5, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  2. He was a big wasp, but fortunately not a foot long. Our airport isn’t big enough for one that size to land anyway. Either way, I think I’ll give that nest a wide berth (as if I could find it again).


    Comment by montucky — October 5, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

  3. Oh, what a cool looking hornet nest! I’ve never seen one like that. How big was the nest?


    Comment by Sara — October 5, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  4. how interesting, though I doubt I’d have gotten too very close. The nest is very interesting looking too!


    Comment by silken — October 5, 2008 @ 7:19 pm

  5. Sara,

    It was 12 inches long and about maybe 8 inches wide. I had never seen one that large although I read that they can be as big as 3 feet tall. I didn’t even know that kind of wasp lived around here. That’s what comes from following deer trails, I guess.


    Comment by montucky — October 5, 2008 @ 8:18 pm

  6. Silken,

    I saw just the one wasp. When I got up close to the nest, I have to admit I was a little nervous. Compared to anything I’ve seen before it is huge!


    Comment by montucky — October 5, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  7. There is a large active nest hanging low over a local road here. It’s been there for at least two years now. I always have this irrational fear that the nest will drop onto my car whenever I drive past directly underneath it. I can imagine angry stinging wasps pouring into my car through the air vents…a veritable nightmare indeed.


    Comment by Tabbie — October 5, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

  8. Tabbie,

    That would indeed be a nightmare, but I don’t think they could get in through your air system. An open window though…

    I have the impression that these guys are fairly mellow as wasps go but I have no experience with them at all. I was nailed twice in one day by Yellow Jackets this summer. They don’t bother me especially but it’s not something that I look forward to.


    Comment by montucky — October 5, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

  9. Hi, I just came across your site. That’s a neat hornet’s nest you found. It’s a good thing you didn’t run into it. I just posted a picture of one on my blog. It hangs from a maple tree over our deck. I think we might try to keep ours after the hornets die. They do get angry and will give multiple stings when their nest is disturbed (so I’ve read).


    Comment by Janet — October 6, 2008 @ 5:25 am

  10. That is a big bugger! I have seen several wasp nests, but never any so big!


    Comment by scienceguy288 — October 6, 2008 @ 8:58 am

  11. Janet,

    Thanks for the visit! I plan to collect this one too after a good freeze or two. I found this website about preserving them, if you haven’t seen it:


    Comment by montucky — October 6, 2008 @ 9:30 am

  12. Scienceguy,

    I hadn’t seen any that size either and was really surprised. They must keep things pretty low key and hide the nests pretty well. I don’t remember seeing any of the wasps either: they’re quite dark colored.


    Comment by montucky — October 6, 2008 @ 9:33 am

  13. Nice shot of the hornet,… I’ve never stayed around long enough to get that close! Just call me a wimp! haha…..


    Comment by Cedar — October 7, 2008 @ 5:12 am

  14. I visited the nest again yesterday and there were several around it, but they seemed completely unconcerned about my presence. I think they are fairly tranquil for wasps, although they’re big enough I’d bet they pack a wallop!


    Comment by montucky — October 7, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

  15. I have one about that size in my garage that I found one winter, they can make beautiful pieces of art, after the inhabitants leave of course 🙂


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — October 7, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

  16. Bernie,

    I’m really amazed that I had never seen one before. I’ve read that they get much larger than this one. The next few nights are supposed to get down into the twenties, so in a few days the nest will be finished and I hope to collect it. Quite a creation!


    Comment by montucky — October 7, 2008 @ 9:10 pm

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