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European Hornet (Vespa crabro)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the European Hornet, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 7/31/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  European Hornet  
Picture of European-Hornet

More North Americans will eventually see the European Hornet firsthand as it expands its range westward across the continent.

The European Hornet arrived in North America, New York to be more precise, sometime in the 1800's. It is technically the only hornet on the continent. The large-bodied insect is now common and widespread throughout the eastern U.S., and it seems to be moving further south and west. Paper nests can be found in hollowed trees, under decks or porches, in basements or nestled in an overhang. It is rare to find them in urban areas, but possible to find them in forested places despite city boundaries. One can find between 200-400 adults in one nest and workers are active both day and night. They seem to like light at night and may bounce off windows, like June Bugs. They are not considered dangerous when passing despite their size and loud buzzing, but they are defensive and will sting if they, or their colony, is threatened. For that reason, professionals exterminators should be contacted for nest removal.

European Hornets are insect-eaters. Their presence can be considered natural insect control in the wild. They also drink tree sap and, over time, may damage the tree they are nesting in by robbing it of nourishment. Their natural enemies include mice and other mammals trying to break into the nest to eat their grubs (baby hornets). Every fall, young queens are hatched and mate with males before hibernating through the winter. The rest of the members of a colony die. Young queens will build their own colonies the following spring.

European Hornet Information

Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common Name: European Hornet
Scientific Name: Vespa crabro
Other Name(s): Giant Hornet

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hymenoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Vespidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Vespa
       Arrow graphic Species: crabro

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 18 mm to 38 mm (0.702 inches to 1.482 inches)
Identifying Colors: black, yellow, orange, red
Additional Descriptors: huge, large, bee, wasp, flying, stinging, sap, tree, stinging

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; California; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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