Invasion of the giant hornets… or is it?

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

There’s a buzz going about… and it’s created by a load of hornets. Regular readers will know about the Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia, which has been causing a bit of debate. Quite a few people emailed The Ranger or posted to the blog, worried (or interested) that they might have found a specimen of V. mandarinia in their house or garden. One of these was Ranger reader Dave Wall, who said:

I have just seen a massive hornet in my garden. It was hovering just above an ants nest. It only stayed around for a few seconds before flying off. I have seen ordinary hornets fairly commonly in and around our house, but nothing like this. It was not the European Hornet ! I would estimate it to be about 60mm in length. It’s bright yellow head and huge abdomen were the most striking features. We are in a very rural fruit growing area in Warwickshire.

The Ranger rather optimistically requested photos, and splendidly, Dave was able to comply. A few days later he gamely captured one of the beasts and took some great photographs – here’s one:

European hornet (c) Dave Wall

Dave Wall’s hornet – the ruler has been added in from another part of the photo, but the scale is correct.

We can see from Dave’s ruler that the body length of this creature is a somewhat less scary 35mm, which is well within the range of the European hornet V. crabro. Indeed, this is no Asian monster but our native European hornet, and as such is little to worry about. If you need convincing perhaps the simplest way to tell them apart is the colour of the thorax (the bit of the body between the head and the abdomen) which is very clearly brown in UK hornets (less so in other European races), but definitely black in the Asian one. This one, as you see, is quite gingery-brown. This is a worker although it’s on the big side. Queens and workers have seven segments to the abdomen, whereas males have only six. The queen can be up to 50mm in length, so quite possibly that’s what Dave saw the first time. The European hornet is actually less aggressive than the common wasp, and although it looks fearsome, is less likely to sting. And although it will nest in urban and suburban situations, it prefers the countryside. So you don’t need to be too worried, if you leave them alone they will probably not bother you and go away. Interestingly, it’s not just The Ranger who has had these enquiries. The Ranger’s correspondent Stuart Hine, who was at the time manager of the Natural History Museum’s Insect Identification Service, explains more:

The Insect Identification Service at the Natural History Museum is receiving unprecedented enquires from the public about the insect. Most people are concerned that they are seeing the giant Oriental hornet or the Asian ‘killer’ hornet, probably due to recent media attention these species have received. But this is not the case. What people are seeing are queens of our native European hornet, Vespa crabro, our largest species of social wasp. Queen hornets are formidable looking insects with a body length of up to five centimetres. In the UK emerging queens are not usually seen until about early-mid May. However, the unseasonable mild spring we have experienced this year appears to have roused them from their slumber earlier with the first sightings in early March.

Read this post if you think you have got an Asian Hornet.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

51 thoughts on “Invasion of the giant hornets… or is it?

  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    you say cannot like in cold climate? They why are they common in Japan and Korea?

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in Jacksonville, FL. These giant hornets used to live in my barn about 10 years ago. They thought residing under 1200 lb. horses was a good idea? Anyways, every day I would go in to clean the stalls… And come running out after a giant hornet came shooting up out of it’s burrow that I accidentally stepped on. They’re like little helicopters. I haven’t seen any in about 7 or 8 years though.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    While I was traveling in Southern China, I took a break from stress by staying at a University as a guest. As I entered the stairwell one morning, I had occasioned to see an extremely large hornet. I would estimate the body to be the length of my index finger. This was not an Asian giant hornet like in any pictures I could find. The color was bright light orange and uniform all over. The only thing I can think of is that this was a drone or queen. If you have any information on this creature, I would appreciate an e-mail. When it took flight I yelled “holy s**t,” and ran. Others that saw it did the same.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Could it have been a queen hornet looking for somewhere to hibernate? We had a queen wasp in our study last night and she was big.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    We found a European Hornet (we think!) in our lounge last night, we couldn’t believe the size of it!!! and we have never come across one before, is it normal to see them at this time of year? and are they the same as the one’s they write in the papers about in France?

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I Discovered A Hornets Nest In My Backyard Yesterday I Love Watching Them From A Distance. Hornets Are Very Huge I Sure Don’t Want To Come In Contact With One I Bet It Will Hurt Bad.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I was just in England and stopped for a cream tea at the Ghyll Manor in Surrey. There we discovered the biggest wasp I have ever seen. I did take a picture. Is it possible to upload so that you can see it? I would be really interested to know what it was.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Okay, so I strongly believe I had the Japanese Hornet. I was literally watching a huge hornet digging in my flower bed and it made such a horrible sound from its hole. Then I started looking at my bed and found 3 more holes and heard a ton of buzzing. I knew I couldn’t handle it, so I called Terminix and they came out, took care of the problem, and confirmed it to be the Japanese Burrowing Hornet. It was the largest thing I had ever seen. It was black between the yellow head and it’s striped body. It was terrifying.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Roaming in the early hours in not uncommen if there are lights ..porch light street lamps ect september can be mild still so bare in mind at that time of year they may still be lookin for place to hibernate ..

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    The vespa crabro .. (europian hornet) was introduce to the u.s in the 40’s I beleive, so it’s possible. recent records show they are doing well there .. Thanks

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Today I found a gathering of wasps and hornets on the riverbank (which backs on to houses where we live) I was concerned as children and dog walkers use this area daily. On closer inspection I have discoverd that the newish growth of branches coming from an old chopped down willow tree are covered with some form of aphids. Which I know secrete a liquid which wasps etc find very attractive.
    I can not tell if the Hornets are nesting under this tree or flying in. Do you recommend I report to the council or leave nature alone as surely they will be hibernating soon?

    The Ranger responds: unless they are an immediate danger – and it doesn’t sound as if they are – I’d leave them to get on with it, but don’t go too near. They will indeed soon die off or become dormant.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Do hornets nests omit a smell? We have had a smokey smell near a wall in our bedroom for a few weeks and could not find the source. Last week we found that hornets were getting into our loft room above and have found a large nest on the inside of the loft between the eaves and wall. Could this be the source, and if so should we break up the nest.It is in too difficult a place to remove so breaking it up with a probe is the only possibility. The area has already been sprayed to keep the hornets out of the house.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hiya,

    It was 2am and i decided to go outside for a fag! All of a sudden this huge thing flew down and hit the floor, it flew off a few seconds later but when i went up to my room i was not pleased to see it buzzing around inside. It was 3 – 4 cms long. I had to get my partner to catch it as i am allergic but it seemed as soon as he walked in the room it flew for him!!! I thought they were dosile!!! Is there any reason for them to be roaming about at 2am in september?? Thanks Laura x

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in Twickenham, hardly rural, and saw my first European hornet on Saturday morning when my daughter almost trod on it under the breakfast table. It was massive, must have been a queen, about the size of my thumb. Differed from wasp as the black stripes were much more orangey brown. Didn’t seem particularly aggressive just scarily huge for this country!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    12 months on from my last comment, we’ve had 6 wasps nests each at least the size of a basketball -all been dealt with as they were over doorways etc and were becoming a nuisance. One of them had been built in the cavity wall and you could hear them chewing the plasterboard making space for the nest. Sounded like a roof full of mice chewing at the bars on a cage.

    However what i’ve seen a lot more of this year is Hornets, what I thought were new Queen wasps at first have been getting past the flyscreens I built – finally found the hole and sealed it but we’ve had at least 8 in the house in the last 2 weeks.

    I’d guess between 2 and 4cm, much more ‘orangey brown’ than a wasp and as tough as old boots. Seems to be more of a problem at night when we’ve the windows open, they try and get in but spend their time bashing loudly off the flyscreens until I wake up and flick them off.

    Really hope we have a good harsh winter this year – hopefully it will reduce them back to an occasional sight. Oddly i’ve hardly seen any Bees at all by comparison.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    The wife and family say one of these large wasps, but the picture posted is not the same. The abdomen was jet black and lines of yellow. The head and wings were the color as seen. It was digging a whole in the sand around my patio which is made of pavers. Is this just a variation of the European Wasp? We will try to get a picture and post.

    The Ranger responds: there are a huge number of solitary wasp species which could meet the description you give… plus I infer from your spelling you’re not from the UK. So it’ll be hard to identify it, though we’d be happy to see a pic. The good news is that solitary wasps are harmless to humans, so enjoy your new guest without worrying.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Just happened upon this site whilst reading up on the ‘sabre wasp’.

    I have just finished a BSc in Forestry Conservation in Scotland and whilst at College my class took an end of year trip to Southern England. we toured through the New Forest/Oxfordshire etc and whilst visiting a timber yard we saw a massive black and yellow thing. It was the biggest flying insect I had ever seen. The yard owner informed us that it was V. Crabro and that they found there way into the yard in cut timber(overwintering under bark)imported from mainland Europe.

    What I think is interesting is that there seems to have been, from what I have read here, a rise in the British Hornet population in recent years and this also seems to tie in with the current increase in imported timber from Europe.

    Does this make any sence, do you think the link is quantifiable? Could make a good disertation for somebody!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    hi im josh i just wanted to knoew what ive just seen around my estate in warminster it was slighty orange in colour and did not look like your regular wasp or bee

    and i also waanted to know how deadly is a hornet if they sting and can they kill

    The Ranger responds: Hi Josh, send us a photo, we can have a go. And yes they do sting, but not very often, and most people won’t be harmed by it. A few people have an allergic reaction to all wasps, bees and hornets. Unless you’re one of those there’s no danger of death!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I just came on to find out what I’d just seen in my polytunnel. It looked like a wasp but ir wa easily 3.5cm and possibly more. It wasn’t the colour of the one pictues above, but was markedly ‘striped’ the way a wasp is. I went back to try and get a photo but it had found its way out. If i see another I will snap it. Is it a hornet cos the colouring is not the same?

    The Ranger responds: show us a pic, we’ll have a punt.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    The US has them as far west as the Dakotas according to Penn State’s web site. They’re spreading much farther west. I believe I have some here. They won’t allow me to be outdoors without trying to attack me. The ones here are by no means docile. They even linger at screen doors trying to follow me in and wait for ages there. I assure you, I have done nothing to aggravate them. I merely walk outside my house – anywhere on the property – and they hunt me down. Very disturbing. Possibly the ones found in America are more aggressive??

    Here is an excerpt from Penn State University:
    European Hornet

    Vespa crabro L.

    The European or giant hornet is an introduced species first reported in the United States in 1840 in New York. Currently, its geographical range extends from the Northeastern states west to the Dakotas, and south to Louisiana and Florida. It belongs to a family of wasps called the Vespids, which encompass all of the yellowjackets including the bald-faced hornets. Technically, it is the only hornet in North America. The European hornet is a large, aggressive yellowjacket. Homeowners should be cautious when attempting to control their nests.
    Description

    The adult European hornet worker is approximately 35 mm in length with yellow and brown coloration (Fig. 1).The overwintering queens are somewhat larger. The nests are typically located in a cavity, such as a hollow tree or wall void. They will rarely appear freely suspended like the football-shaped bald-faced hornet nests. The entrance to European hornets’ nests are frequently 2 meters (6 feet) or more above ground. In some instances, a portion of the gray, papery nest extends outside the cavity or void.

    site: http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/european-hornet

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    we had a large hornet never seen one so big before it was in our living room the other night brown orangey colour,think it came from inside the wood burner as the door was not closed the door is closed now! this morning was woken at first light by a loud buzzin noise, which might have been coming from inside the chimney but by 5.45am had gone quiet. would there be a nest in the chimney? or could it be a queen thinking of making a nest? the fire has not been lit for a few weeks now. what should we do?dont want the house to be overun by them? we live in devon

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hi,

    For the last week I have seen a number of large flying insects that resemble hornets. We had hornets nests in my garden when I was a child and I remember seeing the queens on a number of occassions. I know these are large but essentially quite docile.

    The insect I have seen is very similar to them but the colourings are diferent. the body is much darker and mainly black. The head is very orange rather than yellow or golden and I am not sure what this is.

    It has been around quite a lot and seems more aggressive…i have seen it take out a few honey bees in the garden already

    Please help!

    Sorry no pics, but am trying

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I have only ever encounted two hornets in my 47 years until yesterday. A massive hornet very slow moving and dopey but still very scary in my friends lounge. I gave it a squirt with a can of raid and left it alone for 10 minutes to die. I should have known it would have family looking out for it. I was on my balcony this evening and heard the droning sound of another one!! Nine miles from the last encounter and in the middle of the city. As I sit here typing it’s doing it’s best to get inside. I’m sure two hornets don’t make a plague but is there a hornet “boom” this year or am i just unlucky??

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My husband was driving home from work this past summer 2008 with his window down in Hiram, Georgia. something hit the windshield and then into the window, hit his chest and fell into the floor board. He came home telling me about this 2 inch hornet that hit him. I thought it was another one of those fish stories, so I said “yeah right”. He went out the next day and found it in the car and brought it too me. I could not believe it. Then this summer we have seen several of them flying around our porch and our barn. It looks like the Japanese hornet. What is it?!!!! Very scary! I also have honey bees, help!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Do not worry about these euro hornets. My dad is 75 and recovering from a triple heart bypass and takes them on on a regular basis. I run screaming out of the house but he just nukes them with the bug spray. If he can get them out of the house then he will but sometimes they fly in, all pissed off looking for a fight and it isnt worth getting stung by one. He has been stung and judging by his scream he isnt going to risk it again. If anyone wants photos of these massive hornets I have kept them all in a jar. They are big, as big as my thumbs and not too bright as they keep flying into the path of a grumpy old man with a can of Raid in one hand and a rolled up tv times in the other.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    It seems that I have been overrun by these european hornets, they have destroyed my apples. can you tell me where do they like to nest, above or below ground? Any info would be great, I do not want to harm them, just learn more about them.

    The Ranger responds: here’s some hornet info. They normally live in hollow trees, and similar environments. They don’t usually go into buildings, unlike wasps.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    We have a hornets’ nest in the gable end peak of our old farmhouse in Huntingdon, England. Insects are continually leaving and returning all day through gaps in the tiles just below the ridge of the roof. I have looked for them in vain during the day but have found them at the lit kitchen windows at night and have been “buzzed” by them at night with a lantern. I assume that they hunt other insects at night, especially after a whole day of rain. I prefer to leave them alone as they cause no real nuisance. Am I wise to do so?

    No wasps nests this year – could the presence of hornets have some bearing on this?

    We lost a nest of bumble bees recently. I believe they were bug up by visiting badgers. A great shame.

    The Ranger responds: quite right, hornets tend to keep themselves to themselves and if they don’t bother you you don’t need to do anything. By this stage of the year you won’t see them for much longer anyway. And yes, they do sometimes eat wasps!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in east TN, US and have taken some photos of that same hornet attacking other flying insects. My children witnessed one the other day attacking a butterfly, ripping it’s legs and wings off.
    Is the European Hornet supposed to be here in the US?

    The Ranger responds: it’s there alright. See this.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Howser!!!I saw these big guys for a few weeks now and thought, MY WORD, they are huge!!!I have two small children and was concerned when these guys arrived hovering over the wet grass on the back side of my yard. I saw some mating action going on as well. Anyhow, I had know idea what they were really. So today I cut the lawn and was able to bag an apparently wounded one. Do these things get aggravated and look to leave a wallop on your bunghole?

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    [QUOTE]Comment from: David Meneo Email
    My yard is infested with these giant hornets, they dig holes into the ground, seem to be loners except when flying around mating…[/QUOTE]
    I have seen these also. The only place I’ve EVER seen them are at my parents’ house. Their front lawn is littered with dirt dunes from where these insects have bored their way into the ground. When you get near one of these holes, if it’s not still in there, it will be paying you a visit shortly. Although, they just kinda hover and look at you, then speed off. But every year about this time is when they come out and the only place/time I’ve seen them. Are they the V.Cabro as you say?

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My yard is infested with these giant hornets, they dig holes into the ground, seem to be loners except when flying around mating…

    How can I rid my yard of them?

    The Ranger responds: as you’re talking about a yard, I’m assuming you’re in the US. Vespa crabro is only found is the eastern US (see here for a map and some information) so unless you’re in that area you won’t have them around. Plus, the European hornet is a social insect, so if they really are ‘loners’ then almost certainly you’ve got some other insect.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in Augusta, GA. lived here for 6 years, my kids and wife ran into the house screaming GIANT BEE!!!. So I grabed my camera and this thing was HUGE! it was between 2.5″ long give or take .25″.
    I tried looking it up, Seen the European Hornet was way too yellow. This one had lightist org/brown legs, Body Black, and only three distigtive yellos side marks. I will but the picture on my sight.
    Sorry it was alittle blurry becuase it kept flying into my face and would not say still long enough. I flushed it out of my water channel which has square stones 12″x12″ 1.25-.5″ thick stepping stone in the photo. This insect wings alone were about 1.5″ to 1.75″ long from the body to the tip of each wing.
    If I get a better picture, “WITHOUT shaking so bad from it” I will try to get a better one if it is around the next few days.
    top of page
    http://www.stransky-webdesigns.com/photography.htm

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in Connecticut (USA)and I am fairly certain I had my first encounter with a European Wasp. But unlike all other American encounters listed above, I saw more than one, and they were not docile at all. Both wasps immediately buzzed by my head repeatedly until I retreated back to my car.

    There is a long row of fir shrubs along the wall to the entrance of my employers’ building, and the bushes have always been a prime location for regular yellowjackets for years. But these were not yellowjackets and they were not yellowjacket queens either. They were about 3 inches long and both had dinstinctive reddish coloring, but based on the climate, the red I saw was probably brown, leading me to the assumption it was a european hornet and not the oriental hornet. (Although I will say it is almost tropically hot here in the summer and the winters have grown extremely mild over the past 10 years.)

    I wish I could have had a closer look at them to verify, but I was running for my life at the time (yes, literally running for my life since I am HIGHLY allergic to bee stings). I’m sure I’ll see them again tomorrow and will try to get a better look.

    My theory is they are hanging around that area because of the high concentration of other bees and insects and feeding off of them??? Any thoughts?

    The Ranger responds: you could be right. I don’t really know about the distribution of European hornets in the US but your description sounds about right. If you don’t bother them they are highly unlikely to sting you.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I just recently saw a large flying insect burrowing a hole in my garden. At a closer glance, I could see that it resembled a European Hornet. I live in North Texas and have never seen such an enormous bug here before. I sprayed the area with the water hose and it flew away. I later looked out the window and it was back, but this time fluttering around my front porch. Anything I can do to deter it from my house without killing it? it scares me!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hello, what a great site this is! I googled “huge hornet orange” and found it.

    I live in Pennsylvania, extremely rural, far away from any roads or human civilization, and we are surrounded by all kinds of wild life. And yesterday evening I saw my first – uhm, ja what? It was extremely huge, orange and brown.

    Like other people living in the US, I also looked at pictures online and thought “this is the asian hornet”. But I believe you when you say it cannot be possible. Our climate is not able to have it living over here. So it must be that european version.

    Here is what happened: I heard a big buzz inside the (closed) chimney, I thought a moth fell into it from the roof. We had the chimney-opening in the room only covered with a cut-out foam, since we are looking to get a stove to hook up there. So I am opening the foam cover to let the moth out, and I got really scared as a huge orange-brown monster hornet looks at me.

    I ran upstairs in fear, thinking, I must get a plastic bag to get it out. Buy the time I came back down, it was gone. I felt like in a horror movie… But then it was at the double-glass door, trying to leave. It was about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, so bright daylight, and a warm day (around 20 degrees Celsius).

    I was really scared, since I was not sure how aggresive that being was, and tried to convince it to leave through the open door. It did eventually, and I was really glad nobody got hurt.

    I would never kill anyone, unless directly attacked, and this being did not at all threaten me. I was just scared by its huge size, but it really only wanted to leave.
    So I am really appalled to read that Americans report here they killed the beings they saw.

    This is so typical! They are even advertizing poisons here to pour on your lawn to kill everything alive (“who wants bugs?”), and then put their small children on their poisoned land…
    (I am German, not American, I am only living here.)

    Unfortunately I was not able to take a picture of that huge insect, but I clearly remember it was NOT YELLOW-BLACK but instead it was orange-brown, as thick and long as my middlefinger.

    I am glad to learn it is harmless.

    Any Americans reading this: please do not harm them!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in Maryland…and there’s one BIG bug outside. My friend’s mom suggested it might be a cicada killer, but it is NOT. The thing is as big as my thumb, and it’s not got any brown marks. It’s black and yellow, and it’s terrifying, though of course I’m not willing to get close enough to it to really check and see what color it’s head is…that this is scary! I just ran inside to get away from it. I’m tempted to keep a big bottle of bug spray with me now, only I think that might just make that thing outside angry.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My husband was stung yesterday by a giant ‘wasp’. I didn’t know what it waswhenI saw it but have identified it as a queen hornet (i think) it was about one and a half inches long with slender wings and was not soft and cuddly! It appeared to have taken residence in our eaves over the back door and took exception to my husband entering the house. We have dogs who guard the house and the job was not vacant! The hornet has now gone to the great hornet graveyard in the sky and I’m down half a bottle of vinegar. My husband smells like a chip shop but we cab get in the house now without being attacked. Sorry if I’ve upset anyone but we are quite territorial here in Cornwall on Bodmin Moor!!!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I have also seen European hornets on a fairly regular basis. I live in Milton Keynes ( well just outside it) and these things are HUGE. I’m not a lover of things that fly and sting, however these seem very docile. They like to sit in the sun and there’s one that likes to sit on the flyscreen i’d put up on my window. I’d estimate 3 to 4 centimetres long and probably 1 centimetre thick. It looks like they are attracted to the Holly bushes in the garden fine with me as that’s 150metres from the house 🙂

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    hiya i live in east sussex in england and for the past year in summer times we have had and out break of european wasps/hornets why are they coming over to england?

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I have a mature & healthy (40 feet) conifer tree at the back (end) of my garden.
    Neighbour at the other side of the garden is insisting that I should reduce the height of the tree. I am worried that the tree may die and its beautiful conical shape will be deformed.

    Plesr suggest the solution.

    Regards,

    The Ranger responds: if it’s your tree, you don’t have to do anything to it unless you want to do so except in some very limited legal situations. If you’re worried contact your local council and ask to speak to the tree officer. They can advise you.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Like many people we have had European Hornets building nests in our Kent garden for the last 3 years. This year they have been madly circling in sunlit patches of the garden over the last week, 14/10-21/10 emerging as the frost disappears. Today we spotted a group of 3 lying on the ground, tightly entwined with others crawling over them, is this the last desperate throes of starvation?

    The Ranger responds: yep, wasps and hornet workers do not overwinter but either starve to death or kill each other once the season comes to an end and the new queens have flown away. You can often see them crowded around ivy blooms at this time of year, but they’ll all be dead within a few weeks.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live on the Isle of Wight and found a European Hornet in my room today. I had never seen such a big “wasp” and trying to look up the kind, I came across your blog. I still had to go ask the neighbour to catch it for me and he released it in the garden. I hope there isn’t a nest nearby or is that impossible in autumn?

    The Ranger responds: if you’re on the Island and you really did find a hornet, then I’m guessing you’re on the north-western coast, as hornets are not known to breed on the Island but individuals do occasionally make their way over from the New Forest. So no, there is not going to be a nest nearby. If there is, I’d very much like to see it as it will be a new record for the Island.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    See; Hornets-The Gentle Giants home page. This will help. Not my website but quite informative. My daughter recently moved to TN and was deluged by nocturnal “hornets” around her lights at night. They came in her house under the door which wasn’t sealed by any gaskets. I told her to check with the county extension agent just to find out what kind they were. We had had a mating pair land with a “plop” next to us when I was visiting this past summer. Since she never had time to check for herself, I managed to find this wonderful site. Go over the whole thing and you’ll probably feel better and even differently about these insects!
    Deborah

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I am in southern New Jersey and we are overwhelmed by the European hornet. They were intoduced into North America in the mid 1800’s. From what I have read about them, they have spead as far south as Georgia.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in North Atlanta,Ga.suburb. I have seen bald face hornets – but what I have is not that.
    It seems to fit the description of the European Giant Hornet except the yellow is not as bright – more tannish on brown on head and abdomen- definitely marked in similar fashion to yellow jacket but yellow is not bright at all. What do you think? By the way this insect is not aggressive likes to sit on a paticular branch of fitzajuniper for hours at a time.

    The Ranger says: I know next to nothing about north American insects, but I’d say there’s no chance you have a European hornet. The clue’s in the name, really. Best you find a US ranger to find out any more, as I’m not sure I’m going to be much more help than that!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I live in Ohio and have seen what matches the appearance of the asian giant hornet, I have been trying to get a picture to verify it with no luck, so I’ve been searching the web to try and match it. It is approx. 2 inches in length, with a about a 3 inch wing spread. The head, base of the antenna, and legs are a bright orangish red color. Its midsection is mostly black with a red stripe across it, and its back section looks like a yellow jacket with bright yellow and black stripes evenly spaced. I have read about he Asian and the European Giant Hornets and based on description found on the web this one matches the asian. At the same time I have read that the Asian prefer more tropical conditions which we don’t have here in Ohio, but this one does not match any description I have found on the European variety. Are there European variety which would match that description.

    The Ranger responds: I really don’t know much at all about US species, but I do know that Vespa mandarinia does not occur in Ohio, so it’s certainly not that. Perhaps you should try a local expert – I’m afraid that’s not me!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Mr Wildlife Gardener just put his foot in a wasps’ nest while pruning a conifer in the front garden. Commenting that he would have been better off standing on a hornets’ nest didn’t cheer him up as I squirted on the second can of Wasp-Eze….

    The Ranger responds: heh! Wildlife, eh? You can always rely on invertebrates to get the last laugh somehow. Still, let Mr WG exorcise his ire on those pesky conifers!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    We have a hornets nest in the eaves of our house. Not a particularly large nest but there are quite a few hornets buzzing around. Is it advisable to have the nest removed and are hornets protected in the U.K. – our local council website states that they are uncommon and should not be destroyed (the hornets, not the council!). That’s fine by me but I’m more concerned about whether they will damage the timber in the house – I have also found dead specimens in the loft?

    The Ranger responds: unless your timbers are already rotten the hornets won’t significantly damage them. And the council is right- they’re uncommon, and pretty much harmless so no need to poison them unless you really feel strongly about it. However, if you do, it wouldn’t be illegal as they are not legally protected.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Interesting about the size of the queen hornets. We had emerging queen wasps this year that were not far off the size of a worker hornet…

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