Types of hornets in the UK

European Hornets – Vespa Crabro

These pests are the largest hornet native to Europe; they are carnivorous and can be seen as beneficial, they are also known to “hawk” in mid-air for honeybees and destroy whole hives. They are therefore a threat to our environment and need to be handled with care.

(Information from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_hornet)

Asian Hornets – Vespa Velutina

Also known as the yellow-legged hornet, they are found in Southeast Asia. As of 2016 it has been seen within the UK and is an issue as it is an invasive species and poses a risk. The worry is that when Velutina finds a bee colony they tend to settle down and prey on the honeybees.

Therefore, posing a risk to our native bees.

(Information from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_hornet)

Both hornets sting in response to being threatened; they are also aggressive around food and their nest. The Vespa C. performs an alarm dance outside of the nest which consists of buzzing, darting in and out,  and attacking or approaching the target.

Asian hornets are harmful to our environment therefore the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural  Affairs (DEFRA) has been trying to prevent an invasion through the removal of single hornets, and any nests found. (Taken https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/why-asian-hornets-are-bad-news-for-british-bees.html)


Typically, these pests like to build their nests in high areas. These include, but are not

limited to:

  • Attics
  • Treetops
  • Under roofs
  • Decking
  • Sheds
  • Garages
  • Hollow tree trunks
  •                                                                    Areas that are raised off the groundhornet nest

There are a few differences between hornets in the UK and their nests Vespa V. nests exit is on the side, the Vespa C. nests exit is usually at the bottom, as shown in the picture to the right

Life Cycle

The hornet’s life cycle is pretty similar to that of the common wasp – starting with a queen emerging after hibernation in the spring to begin building a nest and then dying in the autumn.

They are, however, a lot more dangerous than our common wasp.

(Information from https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/other-garden-wildlife/insects-and-other-invertebrates/bees-wasps-ants/hornet/#:~:text=The%20hornet’s%20life%20cycle%20is,food%20for%20the%20developing%20larvae.)

Fun Fact!

Hornet larvae produce sticky, sweet segregations known as Vespa amino acid mixtures (VAAM) attracting the workers and giving them energy. It is also used in a very popular Japanese energy drink. (fact from https://www.jcehrlich.com/wasps/7-facts-about-hornets/)

comparison hornet

Differences between Hornets and Wasps

The Vespa C. is a lot bigger than the Vespa V. Both are a lot bigger than our common wasp.

Vespa V. is mainly black with a yellow band around the fourth segment of its abdomen. This is important to know as it can help pest controllers take the right action.

It is also important to know that Asian hornets are never active at night.

(Information from https://www.barrettineenv.co.uk/13/2155/what-is-an-asian-hornet-what-does-it-look-like-and-what-should-i-do-if-i-come-across-one#:~:text=Main%20difference%20between%20European%20Hornet,whereas%20European%20Hornets%20may%20be.)

Removal and Risks

It is important to remove these pests safely, their stings are double the size of wasps and hornets can sting multiple times if threatened. Similarly to a wasp sting, hornets’ venom is painful. However, there have only been a few cases of deaths in terms of stings. Determined by whether the victim had a previous allergy to stings.

The BPCA suggests hiring a professional pest controller to deal with a nest. Like with a wasps nest a pest controller will normally apply an insecticide near the entrance of the nest. They then take the chemical into the nest.

Although they build their nests in high places, professional pest control companies like us have the tools to reach and treat the nest safely.

We also will come and remove the nest once it is dead, however, this does incur an extra charge (depending on location).

(Information from https://bpca.org.uk/News-and-Blog/wasp-control-how-to-get-rid-of-wasps-bpca-a-z-of-pests#the-dangers-of-wasps)


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