European Hornet (Vespa crabro)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the European Hornet.
Updated: 3/14/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 true 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 by 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 are multicolored. The head and thorax are black and red while the abdomen has black and yellow stripes. Their large, robust size is intimidating. They are insect-eaters. Their presence can be considered natural insect control in the wild. They also drink tree sap. Their natural enemies include mice and other mammals which try to break into the hornet's nest in order to eat their nutritious 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