General Description

Hornets are large, social wasps belonging to the genus Vespa in the family Vespidae. They are distinguished from other wasps by their larger size, robust bodies, and their behavior of nesting in colonies. Hornets are known for their aggressive nature, especially when their nest is threatened, and can deliver painful stings that are more potent than those of bees or other wasps.


  • Appearance: Hornets tend to be larger than other wasp species, some reaching up to 2 inches (5 cm in length). They have a distinctive yellow and black or brown and black coloration, with some species displaying reddish markings.
  • Nests: Their nests, typically composed of paper-like material crafted by chewed wood fibers and saliva, may be found in trees, shrubs, under eaves, or within attics and wall voids.
  • Behavior: Hornets are social insects that live in colonies numbering hundreds or even thousands. Active during the daytime hours, hornets typically retreat back into their nest at nightfall for restorative sleep.


  1. Queens: Each spring, fertilized queen bees emerge from hibernation to find new colonies by building small nests and laying the initial eggs for their colony.
  2. Workers: These eggs hatch into larvae, which are fed by the queen until they pupate and emerge as workers. The workers then take over the task of foraging and expanding the nest.
  3. Reproduction: By late summer, the colony reaches its peak size, and new queens and males are produced. Once mating, males die off while the fertilized queens hibernate for winter – leaving most of the colony vulnerable and likely doomed.
Pest Profile hornet


  • Natural Habitats: Hornets prefer forested areas where they can build their nests in trees and shrubs.
  • Urban Areas: They can also adapt to urban environments, nesting in attics, wall voids, and other sheltered locations near human activity.


Hornets are carnivorous and feed on other insects, which they capture and chew up to feed to their larvae. Adult hornets primarily feed on nectar and fruit juices. While they play an invaluable role in controlling insect populations, nesting close to humans poses potential safety concerns.

Impact and Risks

  • Stings: Hornet stings are painful and can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Multiple stings can be particularly dangerous due to the larger amount of venom injected.
  • Nesting Near Humans: When hornets build nests close to homes, schools, or other areas with human activity, they pose a significant risk of stings, especially if the nest is disturbed.
  • Agriculture: While they help control pests, hornets can also damage fruit crops by feeding on ripe fruits.

Prevention and Control

  • Avoidance: Keep food and garbage sealed to avoid attracting hornets. Avoid wearing strong perfumes or bright colors that can attract them.
  • Nest Removal: If a nest is discovered near human activity, it is advisable to contact pest control professionals to safely remove it. Do not attempt to remove a nest yourself, as this can provoke the hornets.
  • Barriers: Seal entry points to attics and wall voids to prevent hornets from entering buildings.
  • Traps: Commercial traps can be used to reduce hornet populations, though they are often only partially effective.

Fun Facts

  • Hornets can fly up to 25 miles per hour.
  • They use pheromones to communicate with colony members, especially to signal attacks on intruders.
  • Despite their fearsome reputation, hornets are beneficial for natural pest control and pollination.

Important Species

  • European Hornet (Vespa crabro): The only true hornet native to Europe, now also found in North America.
  • Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia): Known as the “murder hornet,” it is the largest hornet species and has been a cause of concern in parts of North America due to its potential impact on bee populations and human safety.

Proper awareness and management of hornet populations can help mitigate their risks while appreciating their role in the ecosystem. For expert assistance, Get’Em Out Wildlife Control offers professional services to effectively manage hornet issues, ensuring both safety and ecological balance.

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