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How to stop Hornets Gate-Crashing Your Safe Space

It’s safe to say that our homes and gardens have been our sanctuary during Covid-19 lock down.  Many of us have spent time identifying different plants, animals, and insects around our living spaces, and some have been more welcome than others!  You may have seen several different types of flying insect and wondered which ones are which. We are tackling two common ones in this months article and will learn you how you can excel at European hornet identifications.

When it comes to identifying more unwanted garden guests, it can be easy to confuse the European hornet (also known as giant hornets or brown hornets) with other wasp species.  If you have seen large numbers, it is ideal to identify exactly what you are dealing with before taking any further steps. Here is some helpful information which can help you with the European hornet identifications.

The difference between European Hornets and Wasps


WaspEuropean hornet
ColourYellow with black markingsBrown, red, and yellowy orange markings

The thorax area is brown and it has alternating bright orange-yellow and brownish-black stripes along the abdomen.

SizeQueens measure between 2-2.5cm in length.  Workers measure around 1.2-1.7cmSlightly rounder and broader than wasps.  The largest of the social wasps.  They can grow to 5.5cm in length.  The head area behind the eyes (vertex) is bigger than a wasp’s vertex
Temperament Can become aggressiveLess aggressive than wasps; will only sting and bite if provoked
StingsCan sting multiple timesCan sting multiple times.  Hornet stings are more painful than wasp stings due to a different chemical found in hornet venom



These pests are carnivorous and enjoy eating large insects, e.g. grasshoppers and honeybees.  They also eat tree sap and fruit. They strip wood bark to access the tree sap, known as “girdling”, which can cause a great deal of damage to the tree.  They usually make their appearance in late summer and can be active at night as well as during the daytime if conditions are mild.  Like moths, they can be disorientated by lights when night falls. The only likely confusion is with a queen Median Wasp, but the Hornet is larger and has different thoracic pattern. May to November. It is rarely aggressive unless the colony is threatened.


European Hornet Identification - European hornets at work at their nest in a hollow tree


European hornets scrape wood to create a paper paste, much like wasps, to build their nest.  They build their nests in barns, out buildings, hollow trees, attics, hallow walls, bird nest boxes and even abandoned beehives.  By around the middle of summer, the nest will be at it’s peak.  At this point the nest will be about 60cm in size and will contain around 700 hornets!

What to do if you find a nest

Due to their smooth stingers, the European hornet can sting multiple times.  Their stings are very painful and often cause itching and swelling for 24 hours.  For people who are allergic, the stings can be life threatening.  Here at Avon Pest Control we recommend you contact a qualified, trusted pest control service provider as soon as you identify a problem nest, and do not attempt to tackle the nest yourself.
The life cycle of the hornet
Avon Pest Control recommends

  • If you have identified a nest, keep all windows and doors closed until the nest is treated or removed. This will greatly reduce the chances of hornets gaining entry into your home and reduce the possibility of being stung
  • Do not go bare foot in your garden until the nest has been treated/removed
  • Once the problem is sorted, seal cracks and crevices in your home to help prevent the pests returning

Here at Avon Pest Control our qualified technicians provide professional effective European hornet nest treatment.  We are currently operating with strict PPE controls on essential work.  If you are worried about European hornets, call Avon Pest Control today on 01926 632 929 or 01789 293 463, and we’ll happily discuss your pest problem and provide friendly, expert advice.


Avon Pest control – Helping You Stay Home and Stay Safe



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