Hornet Identification – Wondering about the differences between European Hornets, Wasps, or Asian Hornets?
If there is one insect that inspires more fear than the already much feared wasp, it has to be the European hornet (Vespa crabro). With its similar appearance, the European hornet is often confused for a large wasp and can provoke panic in the bravest of people. So, what is the difference? And how can you tell them apart?
The Difference between European Hornets & Wasps
- European hornets are bigger than wasps. They can grow up to an intimidating 5.5cm in length, around twice the size of a wasp.
- European Hornets are yellow and reddish brown, with hardly any black on their bodies, as opposed to wasps who sport their iconic bright yellow and black colouring.
- The humble European hornet is generally more docile and less aggressive than its smaller relative, and tends to avoid humans unless they are provoked.
- Stings and bites
- Unlike bees, European hornets and wasps do not die after one sting. The hornet may sting or bite multiple times if they feel threatened or are attempting to defend their nest. Their stings also tend to be more painful than a wasp sting. If you believe you have found a hornet nest, Avon Pest Control recommend contacting a professional pest control company, and advise that you do not tackle the issue yourself as these insects will defend their nest aggressively
- Like wasps, European Hornets tend to nest in hollow trees and bushes. They can also choose a safe nesting spot in hollow walls, chimneys, and attics. Colonies can reach up to 700 strong in workers!
- Feeding habits
- European Hornets and are not attracted to human food. Both adult and hornet larvae feed mainly on other insects; queens may also feed on tree sap. Adult wasps consume sugars, feeding the insect prey they kill to their young. The sugars wasps feed on may come from flower nectar, the sugary liquid produced by wasp larvae, or your jam sandwich at a picnic!
Know Your Hornets
The European hornet is the only hornet native to the UK, identification of which can be assisted by the above descriptors. However, an invasive, non-native hornet, known as the Asian hornet (Vespa Velutina) has also been sighted in the UK. The rise of “killer” Asian hornets was reported last year, and as this species is a significant threat to bees and other pollinators, you must report any sightings of an Asian hornet. You can differentiate the Asian hornet from our native species as they are smaller in size, are very dark brown with fine yellow bands, and have yellow legs.
If hornets are causing you trouble, or you are worried and unsure of the flying insect you saw, don’t stir up a hornet’s nest!
Call Avon Pest Control today on 01789 293 463 or 01926 632 929, or click here for more contact information. Our friendly and efficient team are on hand to solve your pest problems for you.