This wasp isn't truly a hornet but a yellowjacket. They are distinguishable by their large size and distinctive white and black coloration, giving them their "bald-faced" descriptor. Their nests are usually found hanging from tree branches or under eaves and can grow to be the size of a basketball. Inside, the queen lays her eggs, which develop into workers that maintain and guard the nest. While not particularly aggressive, they will defend their nests fiercely when threatened. Their stings are painful, and individuals allergic to wasp stings should be particularly cautious.
Northern Paper Wasp
As its name suggests, the Northern Paper Wasp creates nests out of paper-like material. These nests are often umbrella-shaped and can be found hanging from tree branches, eaves, or other horizontal structures. They're brownish with varying degrees of yellow and orange. Unlike other wasps, they are considered semi-social, with less complex colony structures. They mainly feed on caterpillars, converting them into a paste-like substance to feed their larvae.
Also known as Mud Daubers, these solitary wasps are recognized by their slender, thread-like waist. Their name comes from their unique nesting behavior: they build tubular nests from mud. These nests are often found on the sides of buildings, under eaves, or inside garages or sheds. Mud Wasps primarily feed on spiders, paralyzing them with their sting and placing them in their mud nests as a food source for their emerging larvae. Despite their menacing appearance, they are not particularly aggressive and rarely sting humans.
Ground Digger Wasp
These wasps, also known as the Great Black Wasp, have a shiny blue-black appearance and are found throughout the United States. They are solitary wasps and get their name from their behavior of digging nests in the ground. Female Ground Digger Wasps hunt katydids and grasshoppers, paralyze them with their sting, and then bury them in their underground nests as food for their larvae. These wasps are known to be beneficial for controlling pest populations, and they are not aggressive toward humans unless directly provoked.
While Carpenter Bees are not wasps, they are often mistaken for them due to their size and appearance. These bees are large, with shiny, black, hairless abdomen, and are known for their wood-boring behavior. Female Carpenter Bees bore into wood, creating tunnels where they lay their eggs and provide a food stash of pollen and nectar for the emerging larvae. They can concern homeowners due to the damage they cause to wooden structures. Unlike male Carpenter Bees, which lack stingers, females can sting but are not aggressive and only do so when threatened.