I was working on my rental house on Whidbey Island a few weeks ago when I noticed a huge paper nest hanging from a low tree limb next to the house. I didn’t want to get too close to the nest to identify the insects since it was being patrolled by a half dozen wasp-like insects. There was no way I was going to destroy the nest myself so I made a quick call to the local pest control company.
The exterminator quickly identified the culprit as the bald-faced hornet. Hornets are a type of wasp that build paper nests. Common on the West Coast, bald-face hornets build large paper nests to raise their young and are very aggressive.
The pest control man, suited up in protective clothing and headgear, slowly approached the nest with a dusting bulb containing an insecticide called Tempo dust. This insecticide uses a fast knockdown chemical called cyfluthrin that kills quickly and also has a long-term residual effect.
Upon the first dusting directly into the nest entry hole, the hornets immediately became agitated. After a few dust applications, the nest was left alone for a few days so that patrolling hornets returning to the nest would also get dusted. The exterminator removed the entire nest after a few days.
I was glad I did not tackle the nest myself since these hornets are very protective of the nest and are very aggressive when disturbed. In contrast to bees, hornets will sting repeatedly and will not die after stinging. Because hornet stingers are not barbed, they do not pull out of their bodies.