This is the crabapple tree a few feet from our back deck. You can see our railing in the picture. If you have very good eyes, you might be able to see a large brown spot near the top.
This is a closeup of the spot. You can see it better if you biggify.
That is the home of my new neighbors, a colony of bald-faced (or white-faced) hornets, which are actually from the same family as yellow-jacket wasps. I was not excited to discover them in the neighborhood, as I am allergic to vespids - the anaphylactic kind of allergic, not the my-arm-swells-up-really-big kind of allergic.
The representative from my homeowners association expeditiously sent an exterminator to my rescue, but unfortunately the nest is too high and too far away from the deck to exterminate safely (from the point of view of the humans). I learned that this type of wasp mounts two sentries near the door, who if disturbed rally the inside members to attack. The distance to the hive is small enough that the bug man's pole could reach the door, but far enough away that installing the powder of death would be difficult. That didn't sound like an optimal situation.
I also learned that at the end of this season the workers will die off and the fertilized queens will hibernate, and they generally do not recolonize the same nest next year. And I've also observed for a few days that they are not really active outside the nest, possibly because I don't have any plants on the deck to attract them.
So in spite of my fear, I will be living with my unwanted neighbors for the rest of the summer. I have dug out my Epi-pens (and will give DH a refresher on how to use them, in case I am not able). Every day I do a little meditation, sending peaceful thoughts to the hive. But I thought, just in case this blog goes completely dead (so to speak) - you can blame it on bald-faced hornets.