Palefaced Hornets and Risk
I have a question regarding white-faced hornets. I almost never
destroy their nests when they are built on my property. I know that
they prey on other insects and this seems a good quality to me. Am I
exposing neighbors to unwarrented risk of attack? I have found the
hornets to be docile if left alone. Do they have a comfort zone?
I respond not a a biologist, but as a beekeeper. The paleface hornet (I
think that is the correct name) makes a large paper cone. They tend to be
among the more aggressive of all their cousins. In my experience they are
every bit as unfriendly as the yellow jacket who is known for their defensive
nature. I would tend to give them a wide berth.
Yes, they are hunters and might diminish other unwanted insects, but they are
also garbage eaters. Not only will they raid garbage cans, they visit road
kill and food left exposed at picnics.
Should you leave them or destroy them. I would always favor allowing them to
live as long as they do not interrupt human activity. As for a comfort zone,
they will not likely become defensive as long as you remain 20 feet or more
(my number, just a guide) away. They have a genetically controlled nature.
Some are more defensive than others (a la the africanized "killer" bee).
Some colonies are more prone to attacking than others.
If you find it necessary to destroy them, do it at night. They will all be
home and you can knock them all off at one time. If you miss a few, they
will be out of sorts and likely more difficult to deal with. You might find
a beekeeper who would be willing to help out - I would use a plastic bag and
a can of Raid in a sneak attack at sundown. I'm sure a pest control company
would help for the right price.
Sorry, no definitive answer here.
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Update: June 2012