The only species of true hornet that lives in North America is the European hornet, believed to have been brought to America in the 1800s. These insects have reddish legs and wings, with a striped brown and yellow abdomen. Larger than most wasps, queens can reach up to almost an inch and a half in length. They mainly eat other insects but do enjoy sugary foods. Hornets are predominantly hunters but will scavenge food from the garbage or even steal spiders’ catches as autumn approaches. Like most other stinging insects, they are beholden to a queen, who lays all the eggs for the colony. She is the only truly fertile female within the colony. She is also the only member of the colony who survives through the winter.
Hornets make their nests out of various plant materials and soil, which they chew up and form into a papery substance. They may also create a wrap for the comb, as these insects prefer darkness. Unlike their cousins the yellow jackets, for which they are often mistaken, these wasps are typically non-aggressive. However, they will defend their nests, and sting if stepped on. These stings, while painful, are typically non-life-threatening.
Hornets can actually be beneficial to have near your home, as the insects they eat are usually pests. In Germany, they are even a protected species! However, the defense of their nest can be problematic, and this defensive reaction can spread quickly within the hive. Along with that, the nest just looks unsightly. They can be even more of a cause for concern for homeowners with stinging-insect allergies. Call Advanced Wildlife Control for safe removal of hornets from your property.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bald-faced hornets are actually a type of yellow jacket! For more information on them, visit our Yellow Jacket page.