- Size: Generally between 25 and 35 mm
- Color: Yellow, brown, and black
- Distinctive Feature: Larger than other wasps, loud buzzing
- Habitat: Nests in trees, basements, attics
The European hornet is the largest of the European hornets, typically measuring between 25 and 35 mm. It is distinguished by its reddish-brown thorax and broad head, with abdominal segments adorned with yellow and black bands. These hornets often build their nests in dark and protected places, such as attics, hollow tree trunks, or wall cavities. Their diet is varied, including insects, nectar, and sap. In terms of behavior, the European hornet is less aggressive than other species but can become defensive if its nest is disturbed.
The Asian hornet is slightly smaller than its European counterpart, measuring between 20 and 30 mm. It features a black body with a unique yellow-orange band on the abdomen, an orange face, and yellow tips on its legs. These hornets prefer to build their nests at height, like in trees or under roofs. Their diet is notable for its preference for bees, posing a serious problem for beekeeping. In terms of behavior, the Asian hornet can be aggressive, particularly near its nest.
The yellow-legged hornet measures about 22 to 28 mm. It is recognized by its yellow legs and a body less robust than the European hornet, with a striped abdomen of brown and yellow. They tend to build their nests in hidden places, including underground. These hornets have an omnivorous diet, including insects, fruits, and human waste. While they are less confrontational than other hornet species, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened.
The Oriental hornet, similar in size to the European hornet, is characterized by a primarily black abdomen with yellow spots. These hornets prefer open areas for their nests, often building them outdoors. They hunt a wide variety of insects, showing particularly aggressive behavior in defense of their nest. However, outside of this circumstance, they are generally less aggressive than other hornet species.
Distinguishing Hornets from Other Insects
Hornets are often confused with wasps due to their similar appearance, but there are several key differences. Hornets are generally larger than wasps, with a size of up to 35 mm, while wasps are smaller and more slender. Hornets also have a broader thorax and more pronounced head. In terms of color, wasps have brighter and more defined yellow and black patterns, while hornets have duller shades and less contrasting patterns. Regarding behavior, hornets tend to be less aggressive than wasps, except in the case of a direct threat to their nest.
Bees differ from hornets in their smaller size and more robust, hairy bodies, which aid in flower pollination. Hornets have a smoother and less hairy body and are larger. Bees tend to have a more uniform coloring of brown and yellow, while hornets display more varied color patterns. In terms of behavior, bees are generally non-aggressive and sting only in defense, while hornets can be more aggressive, especially near their nest.
Black wasps differ from hornets in their predominantly black coloring with white or yellow spots. They are also generally smaller than hornets. Black wasps have a slimmer appearance and longer legs in proportion to their body compared to hornets. Hornets, on the other hand, display a variety of colors ranging from yellow to brown and black, with more varied patterns on the abdomen. Black wasps are also known for being particularly aggressive and territorial, more so than common hornets.
Bumblebees are easily distinguished from hornets by their size, shape, and fur. Bumblebees are robust, rounded, and extremely hairy, making them ideal for pollination. Hornets, in comparison, are more slender and have a smoother body with less hair. In terms of color, bumblebees typically have patterns of yellow, black, and sometimes orange bands, while hornets have more diverse and less distinct patterns. Bumblebees are also known for their docile nature and are not aggressive unless directly threatened, unlike hornets, which can be more prompt to aggression to protect their nest.