When Pests Invade

Everything You Need to Know About Hornets: From Diet to Control


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Understanding the habits and characteristics of hornets is essential for keeping your yard safe and peaceful. Many people often confuse hornets with other stinging insects like wasps and yellow jackets. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into several aspects about hornets, answering frequently asked questions about their diet, nesting habits, aggressiveness, and more.

What Do Hornets Eat?

Hornet vs. Wasp Diet

Contrary to popular belief, wasps do not turn into hornets. These are separate species, and one distinct way to differentiate between them is their diet. In North America, the European hornet is the only true hornet species you’ll find. Unlike wasps and yellow jackets, hornets primarily feed on insects like crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and even other wasps. That’s right! Hornets are sometimes seen munching on wasps, showcasing their more predatory nature.

What Do Hornets Eat in Yards?

The European hornet’s diet primarily consists of insects commonly found in backyards, such as crickets, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. Unlike yellow jackets, which are often seen scavenging around human food, hornets are less interested in your picnic. They may occasionally feed on fallen fruits or strip the bark off trees to sip on sap, but they’re far less bothersome to humans in this respect.

Hornets vs. Yellow Jackets

While hornets and yellow jackets both belong to the wasp family, they exhibit different behaviors and preferences. Yellow jackets are more likely to be found hovering over your sugary drinks and meat during a picnic. Hornets, on the other hand, generally avoid human food and are more focused on capturing insects for their diet.

Are Hornets Aggressive?

General Aggressiveness

Hornets have a reputation for being aggressive, but this isn’t entirely accurate. They usually become aggressive only when they feel threatened or when their nest is disturbed.

European Hornets

The European hornet, found in North America, is not as aggressive as some other species. However, caution should still be exercised around their nests.

What Do Hornets Hate the Most?

Hornets dislike strong scents like eucalyptus, peppermint, and citronella. Utilizing these smells in your yard can act as a natural deterrent.

Hornet Stings

A hornet’s sting is generally more painful than that of a wasp. Unlike some wasps, hornets can sting multiple times, increasing the risk of severe pain or allergic reactions.

Does Killing a Hornet Attract Other Hornets?

Contrary to popular belief, killing a hornet does not usually attract other hornets. However, it’s important to handle nests with care as hornets can become aggressive if they feel threatened.

Hornets’ Nesting Habits

While many people believe that hornets nest in the ground, this is a common misconception. Hornets usually build their nests above ground in trees or under roof eaves.

Where Do European Hornets Build Their Nests?

Wall Voids and Tree Cavities

European hornets have a knack for choosing concealed locations for their nests. They often build their hives in wall voids, tree cavities, and other dark, hollow spaces. These locations provide them with the protection they need to thrive and expand their colonies.

Attics and Sheds

Don’t be surprised if you find a European hornet nest in your attic or shed. These enclosed spaces provide the perfect environment for the hornets to build their irregular-shaped nests.

Height and Location of the Entrance

Unlike the bald-faced hornet, which often builds nests closer to the ground, the European hornet typically positions the entrance to its hive more than six feet above ground. This elevated location adds an extra layer of protection for the colony and makes the nest less accessible to predators and humans alike.

What to Do If You Find a European Hornet Hive

If you stumble upon a European hornet nest, it’s strongly advised to contact a professional pest control service for safe and effective removal. Attempting to remove the nest yourself could trigger an aggressive response from the hornets, leading to multiple painful stings.

Now you’re equipped with essential information about hornets, making it easier to identify and control them in your environment. Keep your yard safe by staying informed!

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