Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What the Heck is That?

I had a real serious blog ready to be posted about the trees out here in the piney woods of east Texas but this morning came upon something that I thought might be of more interest to you. It certainly was fascinating to me.

West side
Although it is still "coolish" here it is never too cold to kayak our beautiful lakes. So today the Kayak Kuties (that is what we call ourselves even though we have several rugged men in the group) decided to float Holly Lake and take in the brilliant colors of autumn.

As we came around the bend in the lake, look what we found! A baldface hornet nest. The hornets construct an inverted, pear-shaped, enclosed paper carton nest which can be up to 3 feet long. The grayish brown nest has two to four horizontally arranged combs and an entrance hole at the bottom. 

Baldfaced hornets are considered "social insects." The mature colony consists of a queen, 200 to 400 winged infertile female workers, brood (eggs, larvae and pupae) and, in late summer, males and reproductive females. Social, I guess! Must be one big party in that nest.

Baldfaced hornets are large (3/4 inch long) and black with white markings, particularly on the front of the head and the tip of the abdomen. Front wings of these hornets are folded lengthwise when at rest.

My insect ID book states that it is the only "hornet" reported in Texas but it actually belongs to the yellowjacket family (Vespidae). Its sting can be intensely painful.

Memo to self: when kayaking, avoid this area. . . .


  1. Beautiful scenery.... well, most of it.
    I encountered one of those nests in our woods some years ago, and believe me, I avoided it for as long as it was an active nest.

  2. I always love reading your blogs!! Always interesting and very informative. Love the pictures. I have seen some of these buzzing around - just thought they were some weird strain of hover fly! Thanks for sharing your information - I always look forward to new posts!