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. It was first described by Linnaeus in 1763. D. maculata is part of the cosmopolitan family Vespidae. It is in the genus Dolichovespula. Its black and white coloring differentiate it from its mostly black and yellow genus mates. 
Bald-faced hornets are omnivorous, and are considered to be beneficial due to their predation of flies, caterpillars, and spiders. However, their aggressively defensive nature makes them a threat to humans who wander too close to a nest or when a nest is constructed too close to human habitation. They vigorously defend the nest, with workers stinging repeatedly, as is common among social bees and wasps. However, the baldfaced hornet has a unique defense in that it can squirt venom from the stinger into the eyes of vertebrate nest intruders. The venom causes immediate watering of the eyes and temporary blindness.