Photo by Melody

European Hornet (Vespa crabro)

Order: Hymenoptera (hy-men-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Vespidae (VES-pid-ee) (Info)
Genus: Vespa
Species: crabro


No positives
6 neutrals
No negatives


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Cullman, Alabama
Deer, Arkansas
Ball Ground, Georgia
Ringgold, Georgia
Laconia, New Hampshire
Mooresville, North Carolina
Rutherfordton, North Carolina
Statesville, North Carolina
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Buchanan, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Fort Valley, Virginia
Hurt, Virginia
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

By Magpye
Thumbnail #1 of European Hornet (Vespa crabro) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #2 of European Hornet (Vespa crabro) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #3 of European Hornet (Vespa crabro) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #4 of European Hornet (Vespa crabro) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #5 of European Hornet (Vespa crabro) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #6 of European Hornet (Vespa crabro) by Magpye

By Magpye

Thumbnail #7 of European Hornet (Vespa crabro) by Magpye

There are a total of 23 photos.
Click here to view them all!

Member Notes:

Neutral Magpye On Sep 10, 2006, Magpye from NW Qtr, AR
(Zone 6a) wrote:

These are powerful and agile wasps, the largest of the group that we know as hornets and yellowjackets. Females can measure up to nearly 1 inches long.

Although they normally fly during daytime, in humid windless weather workers may fly at night and are attracted to windows of lighted homes, where they may beat themselves against the glass with impressive and frightening force.

It is said .. that they are quite mild mannered and not prone to attack .. however, they will defend their colony when their nest is threatened. The sting is said to be very painful and may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. One study has shown that allergic individuals are at three times greater risk .. of having a dangerous allergic reaction from a European hornet sting than from a honey bee or yellowjacket sting.

It has a large, robust body with a characteristic black and orange striped abdomen. The head, parts of the thorax, and front of the abdomen are patterned in reddish brown coloration. The head is swollen behind the eyes, and ocelli (the small, simple eyes on top of the head) are remote from the rear margin of the head.

Workers usually hunt active insects, which they masticate and feed to the larvae in the cells of the nest combs. They have been known to raid bee hives, taking the bees and their larvae and pupae as food, but leaving the honey.

Workers in search of construction material and sugary liquids have been known to girdle twigs and branches of various trees and shrubs, including lilac, birch, dogwood, rhododendron, and boxwood. The wasps sometimes kill the plants. They also may damage ripe fruits, including apples and peaches.

The European hornet prefers the forest to suburban and urban environments. Because its rate of contact with man is usually quite low in most areas of North America, the chances of being stung are minimal.

The hornets construct paper nests, usually in very sheltered sites above ground. They frequently nest in hollow trees, but they also use attics, porches, sheds, hollow walls of houses, abandoned bee hives, and, rarely, underground cavities. Nests in homes and other man-made structures may present a problem because of the stench they emit. Exposed nests have a complete, thick, brown paper envelop composed of course wood fibers. This envelop is absent from nests in sheltered sites. A typical nest of a mature colony contains 6 9 combs with a total of 1500 to 3000 individual cells. The typical colony might consist of 300-500 workers .. while a large mature colony consists of about 1000 workers.

Colonies have an annual cycle. Males and queens are produced in late summer. Workers are active until about mid October, then the colonies die out. Only mated and fertilized queens winter in a state of diapause. These queens reappear in spring, and instead of reusing the old nests, they construct new, small combs, and lay eggs in each of the cells. The workers that result from these eggs enlarge the nest and care for the young through the rest of the season until more males and queens are produced.

As its common name implies, the European hornet is native to central and western Europe, but it is never found north of the 63rd parallel.

Neutral VickieP On Aug 15, 2008, VickieP from Rutherfordton, NC
(Zone 7a) wrote:

This is the first summer I have seen the European hornet and only knew what it was because my exterminator was here on a routine call and identified it. He was surprised to see it in the county and said that the hornets at my house (rural) were probably stray food seekers with the nest not necessarily on the property. I have observed that it is quite aggressive with the hummingbirds at feeders, chasing them off repeatedly. The stinger is of impressive size!

Neutral melsalz On Sep 28, 2008, melsalz from Mooresville, NC
(Zone 7b) wrote:

I have found two nests on my property this summer. One is in a hollow maple tree and the other is inside the wall of a block outbuilding. So far they have been non-aggressive. I can stand within a foot of the entry and they don't seem to mind. They are very intimidating looking and I have wanted to kill them. However everything I have read says they are good. They eat other insects 90% of the time, mostly flies.

Neutral petryma1 On Oct 7, 2009, petryma1 from Berkeley Springs, WV wrote:

I fearfully observed these hornets and their night time forays a few years ago and found them nesting in an old walnut tree on my property - an old 70 acre farm in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. They disappeared that winter but have since come back in force. They find their way into my home and one did sting my teenage son (the hornet had landed on his clothes unbeknownst to him and he put his hand on it). Despite their size and scary appearance, they don't seem to be any worse than the paper wasps that also invade our home every spring. Keeping the lights off or the shades pulled down while keeping an outside light on discourages them from "attacking" the windows and finding their way in. However, this evening I observed a couple of dozen of them swarming on my porch light and couldn't resist shooting them down with insecticide. If it's true that they feed on other insects and may be helpful in that regard, I guess I'll refrain from seeking out and spraying their current nest but it would be easier to tolerate them if they weren't so aggresive about breaking and entering.

Neutral whoknew62 On Jul 30, 2012, whoknew62 from Statesville, NC wrote:

I have started having problems with this hornet at night 07/2012. Statesville farm area N.C.
Late night barB Que with spotlights was the 1st attraction. About 8 swarming.
They have now gotten into the house 5 times, at night. I understand the bright lights inside attracts them. I can here them buzzing and wacking into things, as there wings and body are large.
I guess it was not a criticle issue however. I decided to not bother with the last 2 inside, went to bed, and one got on me in the bed. Worried what they could do to a 9 year old child. I have seen the stinger after killing one. Quite large. I have uploaded a photo, next to a Quarter to show general size. (This one is quite old, but didnt shrink much.

Neutral Quiltys41 On Sep 25, 2012, Quiltys41 from Buchanan, TN
(Zone 7b) wrote:

We are now finding them on our homestead this year. While my husband is deathly allergic to yellow jackets, we are minding out p's & q's with this hornet. Although it may be more harmful to him if stung, they are beneficial to us by eating and using any yellow jackets in our area for food. While it removes one problem, we are hoping they are not creating another. So far, we have not found a nest here and have looked. But we are heavily wooded around us and we may never find it. They have not, so far, eaten any fruit trees. They did manage to destroy a lot of the yellow jackets that had shown up this summer for our peach harvest! Like I said, we are neutral about them now with the positives vs. negatives in balance. But we are VERY cautious around them. One good idea I have seen to combat them banging into the house around the front porch light at night....switch the bulb out for a yellow bulb.

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America