What To Know About Hornets

Being the largest insect in the wasp family, hornets can reach up to 2.2 inches in length. They mature from egg to adult inside the community hive. Once fully matured, these social insects construct hives by chewing wood, mixing it with their saliva and creating a papery pulp, reaching a size of 3 feet in length. [1] Despite their venomous sting and sometimes intimidating size, hornets also offer important benefits in their local ecosystem: They control arachnid and insect pests, and they pollinate flowers as they travel from plant to plant.

These insects are less likely to act aggressively since their nests are typically constructed up and away or in remote locations, greatly reducing the exposure to disturbances. [1] As for diet, these insects eat some tree sap for necessary carbohydrate intake. But, they are also accomplished predators. A hornet hive will eliminate many flies, bees, and other insects [5]

Common Hornets in the United States

How To Eliminate Hornet Nests

Elimination of hornet nests should be performed with great care due to the hazard of severe reactions to hornet stings. While the stings of hornets can be intensely painful, hornets are less likely to attack than paper wasps or yellow jackets. [4] It is recommended to hire a professional to eliminate its nest. Hornets typically nest high in trees or in other remote locations, where they pose no threat to humans and should be left undisturbed. When hornets nest along buildings often near the gables and soffits of structures, their proximity to people becomes more of a concern. There are two common species in the United States: Bald-faced and the larger, European hornet. In the event that you have enough distance from the nest to not fear an immediate threat, bait traps are an excellent way to lure hornets away from locations with human interaction. [5]

Bait traps that use a sugar or protein-based food lure will appeal to both the Bald-faced and European hornet. Due to their diet, these baits will effectively lure and trap those that pose a risk. Like paper wasps and yellow jackets, hornets disappear as cold weather approaches. As the temperatures drop, queens begin to hibernate until the following spring.[1]
[1] Paper wasps, YELLOWJACKETS and solitary WASPS – do solitary WASPS STING? Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. (2019, March 4). https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/insects/paper-wasps-yellowjackets-and-solitary-wasps/.
[3] Asian giant hornet. Asian Giant Hornet | National Invasive Species Information Center. (n.d.). https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/terrestrial/invertebrates/asian-giant-hornet
[4] Bald-faced hornet. Missouri Department of Conservation. (n.d.). https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/bald-faced-hornet
[5] Hornets: National Geographic. Animals. (n.d.). https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/hornets

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giant asian hornets

Spotlight on an Invasive Hornet Species

These hornets are fierce predators and have the ability to slaughter an entire honey bee hive through decapitation in just a few hours, leaving piles of headless bee bodies behind. They also have an incredibly painful, toxic sting[2] . Thus far, there have only been isolated encounters with these hornets in British Columbia in Western Canada as well as Washington state in the Northwestern US.
  • Usually 1.5 to 2 inches in length
  • Large orange or yellow head with prominent eyes with a black and yellow striped abdomen
  • The giant hornet has a quarter-inch long stinger that contains an enzyme mixture and neurotoxin that destroys tissue
  • These hornets kill up to 50 people per year in Japan
  • Forms large colonies that usually nest in the ground
[2] Hrustic, A. (2020, May 6). Asian giant “murder Hornets” have been spotted in the U.S.-And they have a powerful sting. Prevention. https://www.prevention.com/health/


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