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Asian Hornets Compared to the European Hornet Identifying the Difference

THE EUROPEAN HORNET

The above image is of a European Hornet who comically appears to be extremely interested in what is happening outside. Less comical is the damage that is done by its Asian counterpart.

Many reported sightings of the Asian Hornet do in fact turn out to be the European hornet. Therefore, what is the difference? How can you distinguish?

Firstly, the adult European hornet range in size between 2 and 5 cm in length. The workers can sting but are not overly aggressive when they are near to the nest. They normally nest in holes in trees, however nests have been found in attics, wall voids and infrequently in the ground. Unfortunately, they do cause damage to trees by stripping the bark off to eat the sap. These hornets however, usually feed on larger insects such as grasshoppers and bees and it is believed can kill around 40 honey bees in a minute. The workers are active at night.

Asian hornets on the other hand are never active at night. The Asian hornet is smaller than the native European hornet. Workers can be up to 25mm in length. The abdomen of the Asian hornet is almost entirely dark except for the fourth segment which is yellow. The Asian hornet has bright yellow tips to the legs whereas the native hornet has dark. The Asian hornet has an entirely brown or black thorax whereas the European hornet is more orange in colour.