|Oriental hornet (|
Hornets (insects in the genus Vespa) are the largest of the
Like other social wasps, hornets build communal nests by chewing wood to make a papery pulp. Each nest has one queen, which lays eggs and is attended by workers that, while genetically female, cannot lay fertile eggs. Most species make exposed nests in trees and shrubs, but some (such as
While taxonomically well defined, some confusion may remain about the differences between hornets and other wasps of the family Vespidae, specifically the yellowjackets, which are members of the same subfamily. Also, a related genus of Asian nocturnal vespines, Provespa, is referred to as "night wasps" or "night hornets", though they are not true hornets.
Some other large wasps are sometimes referred to as hornets, most notably the
Hornets are found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere. The common European hornet (V. crabro) is the best-known species, widely distributed in Europe (but is never found north of the 63rd parallel), Ukraine, and European Russia (except in extreme northern areas). In the east, the species' distribution area stretches over the Ural Mountains to western Siberia (found in the vicinity of Khanty-Mansiysk). In Asia, the common European hornet is found in southern Siberia, as well as in eastern China. The common European hornet was accidentally introduced to eastern North America about the middle of the 19th century and has lived there since at about the same latitudes as in Europe. However, it has never been found in western North America.
The Oriental hornet (V. orientalis) occurs in semidry, subtropical areas of central Asia (Armenia, Dagestan in Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Oman, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrghyzstan, southern Kazakhstan), and southern Europe (Italy, Malta, Albania, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus).
The Asian hornet (V. velutina) has been introduced to France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
Hornets have stingers used to kill prey and defend nests. Hornet stings are more painful to humans than typical wasp stings because hornet venom contains a large amount (5%) of acetylcholine. Individual hornets can sting repeatedly; unlike honey bees, hornets do not die after stinging because their stingers are very finely barbed (only visible under high magnification) and can easily be withdrawn, so are not pulled out of their bodies when disengaging.
The toxicity of hornet stings varies according to hornet species; some deliver just a typical insect sting, while others are among the most venomous known insects. Single hornet stings are not in themselves fatal, except sometimes to allergic victims. Multiple stings by hornets (other than V. crabro) may be fatal because of highly toxic species-specific components of their venom.
The stings of the Asian giant hornet (V. mandarinia) are among the most venomous known, and are thought to cause 30–50 human deaths annually in Japan. Between July and September 2013, hornet stings caused the death of 42 people in China. Asian giant hornet's venom can cause allergic reactions and multiple organ failure leading to death, though dialysis can be used to remove the toxins from the bloodstream.
People who are allergic to wasp venom may also be allergic to hornet stings. Allergic reactions are commonly treated with
Hornets, like many social wasps, can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense, which is highly dangerous to humans and other animals. The attack
If a hornet is killed near a nest, it may release pheromones that can cause the other hornets to attack. Materials that come into contact with these pheromones, such as clothes, skin, and dead prey or hornets, can also trigger an attack, as can certain food flavorings, such as banana and apple flavorings, and fragrances that contain
As the colony size grows, new combs are added, and an envelope is built around the cell layers until the nest is entirely covered, with the exception of an entry hole. To be able to build cells in total darkness, they apparently use gravity to aid them.[clarification needed] At the peak of its population, which occurs in late summer, the colony can reach a size of 700 workers.
At this time, the queen starts producing the first reproductive individuals. Fertilized eggs develop into females (called "
Other temperate species (e.g., the yellow hornet, V. simillima, or the Oriental hornet, V. orientalis) have similar cycles. In the case of tropical species (e.g., V. tropica), life histories may well differ, and in species with both tropical and temperate distributions (such as the Asian giant hornet, V. mandarinia), the cycle likely depends on latitude.
Diet and feeding
Adult hornets and their relatives (e.g., yellowjackets) feed themselves with nectar and sugar-rich plant foods. Thus, they can often be found feeding on the sap of
The adults also attack various insects, which they kill with stings and jaws. Due to their size and the power of their venom, hornets are able to kill large insects such as
The larvae of hornets produce a sweet secretion containing sugars and amino acids that is consumed by the workers and queens.
Hornets' ability to prey upon honey bees is favored by a number of adaptations. Vespa have a larger body size compared to their prey, a heavy exoskeleton to resist bee attacks, and strong mandibles and venomous sting. As concerns hornet hunting strategies, it has been demonstrated that some species such as
While a history of recognizing subspecies exists within many of the Vespa species, the most recent taxonomic revision of the genus treats all subspecific names in the genus Vespa as synonyms, effectively relegating them to no more than informal names for regional color forms.
- Vespa affinis
- Vespa analis
- Vespa basalis
- Vespa bellicosa
- Vespa bicolor
- †Vespa bilineata
- Vespa binghami
- †Vespa ciliata
- †Vespa cordifera
- Vespa crabro
- †Vespa crabroniformis
- †Vespa dasypodia
- Vespa ducalis
- Vespa dybowskii
- Vespa fervida
- Vespa fumida
- Vespa luctuosa
- Vespa mandarinia
- Vespa mocsaryana
- Vespa multimaculata
- †Vespa nigra
- Vespa orientalis
- Vespa philippinensis
- †Vespa picea
- Vespa simillima
- Vespa soror
- Vespa tropica
- Vespa velutina
- Vespa vivax
- Asian giant hornet (V. mandarinia) (one of its color forms is also known as the Japanese giant hornet)
- Asian hornet (V. velutina) (also known as the yellow-legged hornet or Asian predatory wasp)
- black hornet (V. dybowskii)
- black-bellied hornet (V. basalis)
- black shield wasp (V. bicolor)
- European hornet (V. crabro) (also known as the Old World hornet or brown hornet)
- greater banded hornet (V. tropica)
- lesser banded hornet (V. affinis)
- Oriental hornet (V. orientalis)
- yellow hornet (V. simillima) (one of its color forms is also known as the Japanese yellow hornet or Japanese hornet)
- Vespa luctuosa (a species which has the most lethal wasp venom (per volume))
As food and medicine
- Australian hornet
- Bald-faced hornet
- Potter wasp
- Characteristics of common wasps and bees
- James M. Carpenter & Jun-ichi Kojima (1997). "Checklist of the species in the subfamily Vespinae (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae)" (PDF). Natural History Bulletin of Ibaraki University. 1: 51–92.
- A.H. Smith-Pardo, J.M. Carpenter, L. Kimsey (2020) The diversity of hornets in the genus Vespa (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Vespinae), their importance and interceptions in the United States. Insect Systematics and Diversity 4(3) https://doi.org/10.1093/isd/ixaa006
- "Untitled Document".
- Madl, M (2012). "Notes on the genus Provespa Ashmead, 1903 (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Vespinae) based on the material of the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (Austria)" (PDF). Annals Naturhistorisches Museum Wien. 114: 27–35. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
- Dieter Kosmeier. "Vespa orientalis, Oriental Hornet". vespa-crabro.de.
- Conniff, R. (June 2003). "Stung – How tiny little insects get us to do exactly as they wish". Discover.
- Park, Madison; Zhang, Dayu; Landau, Elizabeth (October 3, 2013). "Deadly giant hornets kill 42 people in China". CNN. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013.
- "Insect bites and stings: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia".
- "Volatile fragrance chemicals may attract unwanted attention from hornets and bees".
- "Vespa". pherobase.com.
- Wheeler, W.M. (1922) Social Life Among the Insects. II. The Scientific Monthly 15(1): 68–88
- "Google Books". Google. 1999-11-12. Retrieved 2022-08-30.
- "Google Books". Google. Retrieved 2022-08-30.
- Lu Feng Fang, Materia Metrica
- Jalaei, Jafar; Fazeli, Mehdi; Rajaian, Hamid; Ghalehsoukhteh, Somayeh Layeghi; Dehghani, Alireza; Winter, Dominic (2016). "In vitro antihistamine-releasing activity of a peptide derived from wasp venom of Vespa orientalis". ISSN 2221-1691.
- p. 263, "Cytotoxicity data from a LDH release assay, which measure damage to the plasma membrane showed no significant increase in percentage of LDH release and its IC50 was nearly 128 μL, so we confirmed that LDH absorbance was not affected by this peptide."
- p. 262, "Moreover, the results showed the IC50 of mast cells degranulation at 126 μmol/L, which was approximately high implying that this peptide had high selectivity for normal cells"
- p. 262, "implying that this peptide had ... immuno-modulation property which led the prevention of immune system activation (Figure 7)."
- Herrera, Cayetano; Leza, Mar; Martínez-López, Emma (2020-07-23). "Diversity of compounds in Vespa spp. venom and the epidemiology of its sting: a global appraisal". S2CID 220716061.
- p. 3, "Several studies have shown that mastoparans act on mast cells. ... They are responsible for releasing, mainly, histamine ..."
- European hornet protection site (in English) (also available in French, German, Russian, Spanish and Swedish)
- Differences between Yellowjackets and Hornets at the Internet Archive PDF (218 KB)
- Paper Wasps and Hornets
- Controlling Wasps, Hornets, and Yellowjackets
- Hornets & Yellowjackets
- Yellowjackets and Other Social Wasps
- Vespidae of the World
- yellowjackets and hornets of Florida on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site
- "Invasive Hornets project". IPM Images. UGA, Invasive.Org, USDA, USDA NIFA, Southern IPM Center, Southern Plant Diagnostic Center (NPDN), PPQ ITP. Retrieved 2021-04-23.