Wasp or hornet home?
June 13, 2011 5:46 PM   Subscribe

An attacking cardinal has drawn my attention to this wasp's nest outside my window. Is it an unusual shape? I can't remember ever seeing a "starter" nest with this sort of tubular entranceway. Maybe I just haven't been very observant. The examples I've found on the internet say that it's the distinctive shape of the Median wasp's nest but that's supposedly a European species and I'm in Toronto. It's about 3" from top to bottom. I haven't seen anything fly in or out of it yet. What'sthatbug is on holiday. The sooner I can stop wondering about this, the sooner I can get back to work.
posted by bonobothegreat to Science & Nature (13 answers total)
I'm in North America and I've never seen anything like that before. WOW.

I'm not sure what your question is, but call your local park ranger's office (preferably the kind where they have those educational displays for kids) and ask what the deal is and if they want it for a display.

My hope is if you need to alert an authority about a new problem, they might be able to help you and/or tell you who to alert.

Better yet, call the relevant department at your nearest university.

There might be something with local government, but you'd need the luck of talking to someone who understands insects and the environment. Call a university or the like.

Worst case scenario, this is an unprecedented infestation of a non-local species and someone should (maybe?) be alerted.

It's weird. Follow up on it!
posted by jbenben at 6:14 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Looks like the start of a bald-faced hornet nest.
posted by dws at 6:15 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Definitely bald-faced hornets. You don't really want these near where you move around.

The only obvious wasp's nest that you can have around the place and not risk being stung are really just mud daubers. Despite their fierce appearance (steely-blue glintiness!), they're pretty mellow, and are really only after the spiders in your garden.
posted by scruss at 6:26 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not for the amateur to deal with. Damned things are vindictive as hell. Call a pro, asap.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:35 PM on June 13, 2011

If your profile's correct, contact the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Entomology) at the University of Toronto?
posted by sinnesloeschen at 7:06 PM on June 13, 2011

The bald-faced looks like a good match. That WTB link wasn't archived with the other wasp/hornet stuff so I never would have found it. Thanks.

The wikipedia article matches up with last summers experience. In the fall, we found a beachball sized nest in the neighbours tree (which explained why it was impossible to have a BBQ without having wasps instantly descend upon the meats). I think I'll knock it down and maybe the queen will have time to start one fresh, someplace else.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:13 PM on June 13, 2011

The bald-faced hornet lives throughout North America, including southern Canada, the Rocky Mountains, the western coast of the United States, and most of the eastern US. They are most common in the southeastern United States....
They are more aggressive than both the wasps normally called yellowjackets and members of the Vespa genus, and it is not considered safe to approach the nest for observation purposes. The bald-faced hornet will aggressively attack with little provocation. (From wikipedia)
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:27 PM on June 13, 2011

Bald faced Hornets are mean, really mean. Unless you take a significant amount of precaution (heavy clothes, go at night, have the right equipment, etc), going the "knock it down and maybe the queen will have time to start one fresh" is going to get you and anyone near by painfully stung.
posted by wg at 4:40 AM on June 14, 2011

I think I'll knock it down...

Please, save yourself and others some grief and get a professional exterminator to take care of it. Knocking it down (or even getting near it) is only going to make the hornets really, really mad. There's a good reason the saying is "Mad as a hornet" and not "Mad as a wasp". Wasps are mellow stoners compared to hornets.

Seriously. Get a pro.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 AM on June 14, 2011

Thanks for the concern guys, but the "ball" compontent is less than 2" in diameter, so there can't be more than a couple of wasps and a bunch of pupea inside it at the moment. It's right outside a window that I can slam shut and I won't need to be on a ladder.

I was stung by one last year, so I'm aware that it really hurts. I will not get drunk first and I'll update when it's done. I don't take pleasure in destroying animals' homes.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:21 AM on June 14, 2011

I'm old school, I prefer the spray can of deadly poison approach. The hornet nest killer spray has surprising reach: just soak the thing down, and knock it down with a broom handle the next day. I've found that if you practice your aim a bit, you can dowse them well enough that they die before they can get to you.
posted by gjc at 6:40 AM on June 14, 2011

Nest was removed without much trouble. Thanks everyone.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:32 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You survived! Yay and congratulations! :)
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:10 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

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