Hornets commonly get confused for wasps, and that’s because they’re actually a type of wasp themselves. They’re the largest of the social wasps, and can reach over 2 inches in length.
If you’ve read our previous blog entry Bees Versus Wasps, you’d know wasps are essentially bigger and meaner than bees. Well, hornets are essentially bigger and meaner than wasps! The good news is that the only hornet species to live in the US is the European hornet, and they aren’t as aggressive as other hornet types.
In this blog entry, we’ll be taking a look at some of the key differences between the two in several key categories.
Wasps – while they can range in size depending on age and species, they’re typically a quarter of an inch to an inch long. They vary in color, but one of the most common wasps are yellowjacket wasps (often mistaken for bees), and they have shiny yellow and black striped bodies. They have 2 antennae, 2 sets of wings and 6 legs, and an hourglass or “pinched-in” waists.
They have mandibles or chewing mouthparts, and ovipositors or stingers which they use to sting when threatened, and to lay eggs.
Hornets – while other hornet species can grow to be over 2 inches, the European hornet can grow to be about an inch and a half long. They’re brown with yellow and orange stripes. They have 2 antennae, 2 sets of golden-brown wings, and 6 legs. Similar to wasps, they also have an hourglass or “pinched-in” waists.
They also have mandibles and ovipositors.
Wasps – they can build nests on the ground (such as yellowjacket wasps) or they can build nests hanging from trees (such as what paper wasps build). These nests are typically straw-colored or grayish, and may appear papery depending on the species. They are typically ball-shaped.
There may be hexagonal cells inside the wasp nest, but you really shouldn’t go close enough to look (even if you think it’s an abandoned nest).
Hornets – very similar to the wasp nest described above, hornet nests are oval-shaped and may appear to be made out of paper. It’s not actually paper though, but is a paper-like substance made from a mixture of their saliva and wood. Unlike some wasps that can build their nest on the ground, hornet nests are usually high above ground, such as a tree or utility pole.
Both wasps and hornets can be found nesting in attics, verandas, ceilings, and similar structures in and around people’s homes.
BEHAVIOR AND DIET:
Both wasps and hornets are generally scavengers, and will feed on other insects, decaying fruit, or human food left lying around. Wasps generally have more of a sweet tooth than their hornet relatives.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE THEY?
Both wasp and hornet stings may be painful and cause redness, swelling, and itchiness. If a person is stung and they develop a rash or they start to wheeze and have trouble breathing, they may be having an allergic reaction – in which case, they need immediate medical attention.
Unlike bees (they can only sting once), wasps and hornets can sting multiple times, making them so much more dangerous. The more there are in the area, the more danger you are in – so avoid “threatening” them by going near their nests.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
Don’t have readily available food sources in and around your home that makes your property just a little bit more inviting for them. Other than that, we strongly suggest not taking care of the problem yourself – get in touch with your local pest control company so they can safely get rid of wasps and hornets for you.