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Photo#326094
Dolichovespula maculata Nest? - Dolichovespula maculata

Dolichovespula maculata Nest? - Dolichovespula maculata
Toronto, Southern Ontario, Ontario, Canada
August 28, 2009
Size: big!
This appears to be the nest of a Bald Faced Hornet (they were definitely black with white faces). I am wondering how diagnostic nest shapes are. Can anyone recommend a resource to identifying nests? Thanks.
(ps: how close can i get before trouble ensues? How do they handle paparazzi?)

Moved
Moved from ID Request.

Wait...
You're not too far from the end of the season in YYZ. Give it a couple good, hard frosts just to be safe and then you can cut the nest down and examine it in detail.

To answer your question...
It can be hard to tell for certain. there are some cases where once the nest is abandoned, there is no way to tell.

Dolichovespula maculata and arenaria both build similar nests. However, with my personal experience I have found that mature maculata nests have more "scalloping" and a larger entrance hole than arenaria. I would say yours is without a doubt a bald faced hornet nest. The white faced wasps confirm that (so you can move this to the proper place in guide)

Usually they are OK with you getting within 10-15 feet. I usually push it and get much closer, but I would not recommend that. Most will give you are warning (bouncing into you without stinging) before they resort to stinging, but I find they are generally not an aggressive species and will let you approach.
You can compare D. maculata and D. arenaria nests in the guide here. As for other species, the only other aerial nesters build smaller and less conspicuous nests.
http://bugguide.net/node/view/217786/bgimage
http://bugguide.net/node/view/13721/bgimage
http://bugguide.net/node/view/273310/bgimage

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