Fun European Hornet Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 17, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
European Hornet facts are very interesting for insect lovers.

Is reading about the Insecta class your favorite pastime these days? Then it would be best if you read about the European hornet, which is one of the largest hornet specimens found in Eurasia and North America.

They build their own nests. European hornet nests are found in higher grounds in dark corners or places like hollow trees, wall voids, barns, attics, and similar such urban local places.

These brown and yellow hornets are also stinging insects, so they can sting multiple times when threatened. Otherwise, they are harmless to humans.

In several states of the US, like New York, they are considered pests, and thus professional pest management and pest control are done to get rid of an infestation. To learn more about this nocturnal (active at night) hornets and why they need pest management, then keep reading ahead.

If you like reading about various wasps and insects, then do check more such similar on bald-faced hornetand hornets.

European Hornet Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a European hornet?

European hornets are a type of eusocial wasps native to Europe.

What class of animal does a European hornet belong to?

The European hornet (Vespa crabro) belongs to the Insecta class in the Animalia kingdom.

How many European hornets are there in the world?

The exact population of European hornets is not clear due to a lack of enough research. However, while the population is not rare, they are endangered or locally threatened in several countries. In a few European countries, killing these giant hornets has been made illegal for conservation purposes.

Where does a European hornet live?

European Hornets are Europe's largest eusocial wasp species. Historically, European travelers were the ones who introduced this giant hornet in Asia, and in the mid-19th century, these hornets were introduced in North America and are still the only true hornet found in the US.

Their nests have ranged from Japan to the UK. In the USA, they are commonly found in 31 states like Eastern Dakota, New Orleans, New York, Iowa, Illinois, among others.

What is a European hornet's habitat?

European hornets prefer the higher ground, mostly over 6ft (1.8 m), and dark corners to build their nests.

You will find their nests on hollow trees, hollow walls, barns, attics, tall outdoor buildings, even abandoned beehives. If they build a nest outside, then a European hornet nest usually has a brown paper-like covering that looks like an envelope made of cellulose of decaying wood.

The hornets chew on tree bark where the cellulose is mixed with the saliva, which makes the nests dark, keep them safe from rainwater and wind.

Who does European hornet live with?

Amongst various types of hornet, European hornets are the largest eusocial (highest level of organization sociality) wasps native to Europe. They are known to inhabit large colonies with over-lapping generations in their nests.

Every colony has a queen and male and female workers, and each of them has a role to play for their survival and growth. However, unlike most hornets, European hornets do not hunt alone but rather in groups.

How long does a European hornet live?

Amongst European hornets, social worker hornets have a very small lifespan of 12-22 days, and the queens live for almost a year.

How do they reproduce?

In summer, fertile males and females are hatched during late summer, and they become kings and queens. Once they mate, the fertilized queen hibernates the following winter and builds a nest in spring with very few cells, and lays an egg in each cell.

European hornet nests are started by the queens where she chews on tree bark, and the cellulose is mixed with her saliva, which acts as a cement to hold each piece which is woven together very closely to eliminate as much light as possible.

The queens feed the larvae nectar and small insects. Soon they hatch into infertile females and social worker males.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status for the European hornets is Not Evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 's Red List. However, these large insects have been declared endangered or locally threatened in a lot of European countries.

In some countries like Germany, to protect the extinction of this species, they have levied a law on the killing of these European hornets or their nests with a penalty of 50,000 Euros.

European Hornet Fun Facts

What does a European hornet look like?

European Hornet

European hornets are the only true type of hornets found in the United States. These are quite large insects, dominantly carnivorous in nature, while also feeding on fruit and nectar. They have brown bodies with yellow stripes all over their abdomen.

These hornets have quite a long body with antennae or extension at the front. They also have a pair of wings at the back and six legs. European hornets have long pale faces.

How cute are they?

European hornets might look very majestic with their beautiful brown and yellow combination, but they are not really cute. These large eusocial hornets are majorly carnivorous, preying on large insects like grasshoppers, bees, flies, and many more.

They also feed on fruit and flower nectar as food. They are somewhat aggressive, especially when it's about protecting the nest and colony.

Like all stinging insects, they do have slight venom, which majorly causes allergic reactions and rashes along with blinding pain. These giant hornets, also known as brown hornets, are stinging insects that sting their threat or prey when threatened.

How do they communicate?

European hornets communicate like all hornets do, through pheromones. These pheromones and rhythmic buzzing are their major ways of communicating.

How big is a European hornet?

The European hornet is Europe's largest eusocial wasp. The queens have a length of 1.4 in (3.5 cm), while the insect workers reach up to 1 in (2.5 cm). However, this isn't the largest hornet, as the Asian giant hornet is almost three times bigger than these European hornets. But, they are almost twice the size of bald-faced hornets.

How fast can a European hornet fly?

Hornets are quite expert fliers, and these European hornets or the brown hornets are no exception. Giant hornets or European hornets have a speed of 19.68 fps (5.9 mps) with almost 100 wing beats per second.

How much does a European hornet weigh?

European hornets are large insects. The queens are larger than the worker wasps. Queens weigh about 0.018 oz (0.5 g), and the worker wasp approximately weighs 0.016 oz (0.4 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The unfertilized eggs hatch to be male workers and are sometimes referred to as 'drones', and the fertilized eggs become female workers or the next queen, sometimes referred to as the 'gynes'.

What would you call a baby European hornet?

European hornets lay eggs, so once the eggs hatch, the baby European hornet is called larvae.

What do they eat?

European hornets are quite inclined towards carnivorous food, except they do occasionally enjoy eating fruit and nectar as well. Their choices of prey include bees, yellow-jacket wasps, flies, grasshoppers, and many such large or small insects.They also chew on barks of trees to produce sap for building their nests.

These insects also face threats not only from humans but are heavily predated by birds such as the Eurasian tree sparrow, reptiles, and spiders, amongst others.

Are they dangerous?

European hornets are not extremely aggressive without any reason. They generally keep away from humans but will very aggressively defend their nest and food if posed a threat. Their stings carry mild venom, which is not enough to prove fatal.

You might get some rashes, but if you have allergic reactions, you should get medical help immediately. These hornets are capable of stinging multiple times, unlike other stinging insects. This giant hornet is nocturnal as well, which means they are active at night and are attracted to lights.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would absolutely not make good pets. First of all, they have an extremely short lifespan.

These are hunting hornets, and they are active at night as well as day to maximize their focus to build their nests and help in the extension of the colony.

These hornets are treated as pests as they are found infested in people living quarters like the attics, barns, hollow trees, wall voids, and many similar places with very little lights available, darker the better.

Did you know...

European hornets enjoy a diet extremely rich in protein, sap, and sugar.

Do European hornets kill honey bees?

Yes, European hornets do kill honey bees since it is their favorite. The honey bees and yellow-jackets are mostly predated in late summer when their new seasonal cycle begins.

Do European hornets come out at night?

Yes, the European hornet is nocturnal in nature. They are a common sight at night, buzzing near a light source, looking for other small insects to prey on.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these varied carpet beetle facts and velvet crab facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable hornet coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >