Most of us were taught from a young age to stay away from wasps and hornets, especially their nests. These insects were given bright stripes by mother nature for a reason, right? Well, it may not be the reason you think. Although they can be dangerous insects, their bright colors or stripes are mostly a defense mechanism.
Attacks by these flying insects are rare as long as you don’t interfere with their nests, but if they are building their nest in your home or business, that can become a large problem very quickly. In this blog, we’ll look at the differences between a wasp and a hornet and try to settle the great debate.
All Hornets Are Wasps
So yes, all hornets are wasps, BUT not all wasps are hornets. There are reportedly 15,000 to 30,000 different types of wasps around the world. The largest wasp was reported to be longer than 2 inches length.
So basically a hornet is just a type of wasp. Most that are located in the United States are related to the yellow jacket, which most everyone is familiar with. There are three types that are commonly found in North America – The European Hornet (also known as the giant hornet), Bald-Faced Hornet, and the Sand Hornet (also known as the cicada killer). The sand hornet lives in underground burrows typically, so they are less likely to be a problem.
Wasps Are Brighter, Hornets Are Larger
The main questions in the wasp versus hornet debate is about size. The European Hornet is the one you are probably most familiar with. It can grow to twice the size of a yellow jacket or paper wasp, about 1 inch in length. Hornets tend to have a dull color, mostly brown with yellow stripes or black with a white head (the bald-faced hornet).
Yellow jacket wasps are, well, bright yellow and black striped. They are easy to spot with their brighter appearance. The red paper wasp is often mistaken for a red hornet, and we commonly see these wasps in North Alabama and surrounding areas. They are also easy to spot with their bright red appearance.
Hornets Are More Aggressive If Threatened
If their nest is threatened, hornets can become very aggressive which can be dangerous. Their sting is much more painful. However, if left alone, they are rather placid and don’t tend to attack or sting unprovoked. Yellow jackets however, are much more likely to sting unprovoked. They are attracted to sugary drinks and food, whereas hornets are typically not. This can be a big problem during the warmer months when you like to eat outside.
Both Often Build Nests In Problematic Areas
You often will find wasp or hornet nests in rotting logs, wood hollows, or hanging from branches. However, they are commonly found in garages, barns, or building overhangs. It can be easy to walk into or disturb these nests by accident, which can cause the wasps or hornets to become defensive and sting. If the nest is in an undisturbed or unproblematic area, it is best to leave it alone until the winter months when all the wasps are gone, and it can be removed easily.
If you have a wasp or hornet’s nest is an area for concern, it is best to contact a professional pest control company, such as Scout Pest Control in Athens, Madison and Huntsville, Alabama, to come take care of the problem. Without adequate protection, one should not attempt to remove a hornet or wasp’s nest.