Year of the hornet nest

2015 is the “Year of the Hornet Nest.” Unofficially, that is. 2015 is the year I photographed two large hornet nests at Huntley Meadows Park. Thanks to Noemi Camacho Peschard for sharing with the Huntley Meadows Park Community Facebook group her discovery of a large hornet nest located along Deer Trail, and thanks to an unknown birder for directing me to another large nest visible from the Visitor Center parking lot.

Deer Trail

A large Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest is/was located in the “drowned forest” alongside Deer Trail, approximately 100 yards beyond the end the boardwalk.

Signage at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

17 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Sign post near end of boardwalk

The nest is shaped like a football, only 1.5 to 2 times larger than a standard size game ball! Its texture reminds me of marbled paper.

The following photo shows two hornets on the nest: one entering the nest; another preparing to leave the nest.

A week later, there were no signs of life at the hornet nest.

By mid-November, fall foliage was past peak and the hornet nest was a shell of its former existence.

Visitor Center parking lot

The other hornet nest is/was located in a large tree, approximately 50 feet high, near the extra-long parking spaces for buses at the Visitor Center parking lot. The nest should be easier to spot now that the leaves have fallen from the deciduous tree in which it is located.

According to the experts on the BugGuide Facebook group, this is “most likely” a Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest, although one member of group offered another opinion.

Definitely genus Dolichovespula, although the small entrance hole and scalloping pattern may suggest that this is a D. arenaria nest instead. Source Credit: Ian Kho, BugGuide Facebook group.

A large hornet/wasp nest spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

15 OCT 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Dolichovespula sp. hornet nest

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Year of the hornet nest”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    The structure and patterns of the nests are amazing. It is fascinating to think of all the work that went into making them as the insects processed the building materials in their own little mouths.

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