There are two species of hornets that are common in Tennessee, of which only one is a true hornet. Both species are aggressive, may attack in great numbers if they feel threatened, and are capable of delivering painful stings that can land some people in the hospital. Let's take a look at each of these insects.
Baldfaced hornets are the most aggressive stinging insects found in Chattanooga or anywhere in Tennessee (or most of the country, for that matter), but they aren't really hornets at all. They're large, stocky wasps that are predominantly black or dark blue in color, with white or pale yellow markings. They build oblong-shaped paper nests with the entrance holes at the bottom. The nests appear grey in color, but usually have other colors mixed in when you examine them closely.
About the only thing that's always true of a baldfaced hornets nest is that they're always built outdoors. Unlike bees and yellow jackets, who build nests in structural voids, baldfaced hornets always build their nests in exposed areas. The nests may be suspended from (or built around) tree limbs or branches, hung from power lines, or attached to homes or other buildings; but they're always outdoors.
Baldfaced hornet colonies may range from a few dozen to several hundred workers in size, depending on the age of the colony. The colonies are highly-social and well-organized. Among the other interesting things about hornet colonies are that two or three hornets are always posted outside the hole to serve as sentries and watch for threats to the colony. When the sentries observe something that they perceive to be a threat, they notify the rest of the colony, who attack the threat en masse.
Because different sentries have different temperaments, they also differ in what they perceive to be a threat. Just because you walk past a hornets' nest one day and they don't attack doesn't mean that they won't attack you the next time you walk by. If a sentry on duty calls for an attack, the rest of the colony responds. That's why on one day you can walk past a hornets' nest and not be bothered at all, but on another day the whole colony will attack you for doing the exact same thing.
Hornets' aggressiveness and unpredictability, the height of their nests, and the need for special protective clothing are all good reasons why you shouldn't attempt hornet control yourself. Commercial "wasp-freeze" sprays give you exactly one chance to get the stream of insecticide directly into the hole. If you miss, you'll be very sorry that you tried. So call us instead. It's what we do.
Unlike baldfaced hornets, European hornets are true hornets. They're beautifully-colored insects with black or brown bodies and burnt-orange and yellow markings. They're slightly less aggressive and slightly more predictable than baldfaced hornets, but they can still put a serious hurting on you if you give them a reason to. Entire colonies attack as a group when the colony is threatened, and the stings are extremely painful.
Another way in which in which European hornets are different from baldfaced hornets is that they give you two warnings that you're getting too close to their nests, which are usually built in protected void areas like hollow trees, wall voids, soffits, abandoned animal burrows, or even old vehicles. The first warning is a downright horrible smell that gets stronger the closer you get to their nest. The second warning is a very loud, frightening buzz. Once you hear that buzz, the next step will be an attack; so if you hear it, just back away slowly and be on your way. Then call us to take care of the hornets.
Because they build their nests in void areas, European hornets are harder to control than baldfaced hornets. The actual nest may be some distance away from the visible entry hole, meaning that in most cases we have to find the hidden nest. We use a variety of methods to do this including electronic stethoscopes and infrared cameras. Unlike the case with honey bees, however, it's not strictly necessary to remove the nest unless the smell is getting into the house. Leaving the nest in place after the hornets are killed will do no harm other than the smell.
European hornets' aggressiveness, the height of their nests, the difficulty of finding and treating the nests, and the need for special protective clothing make European hornet control a job for professionals. This is not something you should attempt to do yourself.
Hornet Control Gallery
Here are some pictures of hornet-removal work our technicians have done in Tennessee and elsewhere.
European Hornets Nest
Close-up of a hornets nest hole
Close-up of hornets nest showing sentries
European hornet on a wall in Chattanooga
Hornets\' nest on a house in Chattanooga
Hornets nest removed from house in Signal Mountain
Hornets nest removed from a bush in East Ridge
Hornets nest at a house in East Brainerd
Hornets nest with sentries on duty by entry hole
Hornets\' nest removed from a house in Chattanooga
Inside of hornets nest after it was treated
Hornets nest removal in Collegedale
Hornets nest removed from a house in Harrison
Inside of a hornets nest in Dunlap
Chris S. Removing a Hornets' Nest from a House
European hornet nest in early stage contruction
European hornets' nest
Please contact us to learn more about hornet control and hornets' nest removal in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee. We look forward to your call.