18 Interesting Facts About Hornets

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Hornets may seem like your average wasp, but they are actually part of a unique group of insects with some surprising traits. Here are 18 fascinating facts about these bold and busy bugs.

Part of the Vespidae familyhornets are large, social wasps that live in paper nests they construct in trees and buildings. Some hornets have earned a fierce reputation from their painful stings, but all species play important roles as predators and pollinators.

Hornets may seem aggressive, but like all animals, they usually only attack when threatened. By learning more about them, we can appreciate hornets for their complex behaviors and benefit from their presence in local ecosystems.

Facts About Hornets


Size and Appearance

  1. Hornets are larger than regular wasps. Worker hornets measure 1–2 inches on average.
  2. They have distinct black and white, yellow, or brown coloring with darker wings.
  3. Queens can grow up to 2 inches long, making them the largest hornet species in the world.


  1. Hornets build paper nests out of chewed wood mixed with saliva.
  2. Their nests contain up to 700 cells in which the queen lays eggs.
Type of WaspNest Appearance
HornetsExposed, papery nests
YellowjacketsEnclosed nests underground


  1. Hornets are social insects that live in colonies with workers, males, and new virgin queens.
  2. They have interesting roles – workers forage for food, males mate, and the queen reproduces.
  3. If the queen dies, workers may lay unfertilized eggs that hatch into males.
  4. Hornets perform complex communication dances called tremulations to give colony members key information.


  1. Hornets are carnivorous and feed mainly on other insects like flies and caterpillars.
  2. They chew insects into a meatball-like paste to feed to larvae in the nest.
  3. Hornets help control pest populations, making them beneficial for gardens and crops.
  4. They also drink flower nectar and tree sap.


  1. Only females can sting because a stinger is a modified egg-laying organ.
  2. Wasp and bee stings inject venom through tiny barbs in the stinger.
  3. Hornet stings are more painful than wasp stings because they contain higher concentrations of acetylcholine.
  4. An allergic reaction to stings can be life-threatening. Seek medical attention if you have signs of anaphylaxis.

Life Cycle

  1. Hornets have four life stages – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. It takes about 12-22 days for an egg to develop into an adult hornet.


While hornets can look intimidating, they are fascinating insects that play vital ecological roles. Their complex social structures, communication methods, nest-building skills, and more should earn them appreciation, not just fear.

I hope these 18 facts gave you a new perspective on hornets. Understanding their behaviors and life cycles is key to coexisting safely with these important predators. By supporting hornet conservation, we support healthier ecosystems.

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