OK, I live in Huntsville, AL (North Alabama) at approximately 1250 ft above sea level. This insect has made a nest on the porch. I believe it to be a hornet of some sort, but what type? It is about 1.5 ” long. The nest is about 4 inches in diameter. There is only a single wasp inside, but there are several larvae. Thanks!
Bald-Faced Hornets, Dolichovespula maculata, are not really aggressive, but they will defend their nest (which is composed of chewed wood pulp) fiercely, stinging repeatedly. If there was a nest on our front porch, we would be very cautious, especially once the colony becomes well established. We have read that large nests can accomodate 10,000 individuals. Your colony is being started by a fertile queen. The first broods will be infertile workers. Males and young Queens will be produced in the fall and workers and males along with the old queen will die. The fertilized queen passes the winter and begins a new colony in the spring. Adults frequent flowers and will eat fruit. They pre-chew insects to feed the young.