bald-faced hornet


variants or less commonly baldfaced hornet
plural bald-faced hornets also baldfaced hornets
: a stout, North American yellow jacket (Dolichovespula maculata) that is black with white markings on the head, thorax, and posterior abdomen and that builds large, grey, round or football-shaped nests aboveground especially in shrubs and trees
The bald-faced hornet gets its name from the characteristic white markings on its face, as the word "bald" in English is derived from the word piebald (irregular patches of two colors, typically black and white).Don Bartling
Bald-faced hornets are social insects responsible for constructing those huge football shaped paper nests seen hanging in trees after the leaves have fallen. … But although bald-faced hornets will aggressively defend their nests against any and all comers, they do not intentionally go looking for trouble.Lowell Washburn
… the baldfaced hornet is not an insect most are excited to see. Winter is simply the time of year when this wasp's handiwork is most safely admired.Dave Taft

Note: While not designating a true hornet, the name bald-faced hornet stems from its close resemblance to hornets in regard to its large size and habit of building aerial nests.

called also white-faced hornet

Word History

First Known Use

1861, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bald-faced hornet was in 1861

Dictionary Entries Near bald-faced hornet

Cite this Entry

“Bald-faced hornet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

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