The only species of true hornets that live in North American is the European hornet which was brought in during early settlement. European hornets have reddish legs and wings with a striped brown and yellow abdomen. Larger than wasps, hornets eat other insects but do enjoy sugary foods. Hornets are predominantly hunters but will scavenge food from the garbage or even steal spiders’ catches. Like most stinging insects, hornets are beholden to a queen who lays all the eggs for the colony. The queen is the only fertile female in the colony and is the only member of the colony that survives through the winter.
Despite their name, bald-faced hornets are actually a type of yellow jacket. However, instead of a yellow and black color tone, they are black and white. Bald-faced hornets make their nest out of various plant materials and soil which they chew up and form into a papery substance. Much like paper wasps, bald-faced hornets are one of the stinging insects that make those large paper nests found in trees or on homes. Bald-faced hornets can be aggressive, especially when defending their nests. They do have a painful bite and sting, but they are typically non-life threatening.