Monday 23 June 2014


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Both hornets and wasps are types of vespid wasps, belonging to the wasp family Vespidae. They share similar  physical traits such as narrow wings that fold down the length of their body and both have the ability to sting repeatedly.  They construct paper nests from recycled wood fibres.  Hornets and wasps look similar but there are some key differences between them.  


Wasps belong to the group hymenoptera, the insect order that also includes ants and bees, but belong to the suborder Apocrita.

Wasps feed on live insects and caterpillars and build open umbrella shaped nests constructed from gathering wood fibres and turning them into a papery pulp. These nests can be found suspended from eaves and other protected locations.

Wasps are smaller than hornets.  They lived in smaller colonies of less than 100 individuals, whilst hornets live in much larger groups.


Hornets are the closet relatives to wasps and yellow jackets but belong to a separate genus, vespa.  They are the largest and most aggressive members of the wasp family (Vespidae) and substantially larger than a wasp, reaching up to 5.5 cm in length.

Hornets feed on live insects and caterpillars, building massive, football like paper nests which hang form tree branches.  Most hornets are black and white rather black and yellow. Like all wasps hornets have a wasp like waist, compared to a thicker waist of a bee. In contrast to wasps whose head narrows behind the eyes they have a fat head that expands behind the eyes.

Hornets have barbless stingers which allow the insect to sting repeatedly.  The venom from hornet stings contains a large percentage of acetylcholine and is painful. Hornets live in larger groups and communicate through pheromones , having the ability to attack in mass hence the saying 'don't stir up a hornets nest'.

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