European Hornet

The European Hornet (Vespa crabro) is an insect in the family of eusocial wasps. It is the largest hornet in Europe. It is a vespine.

The European Hornet is black and yellow, with distinctive yellow legs, and reddish-orange wings. Its abdomen is yellow striped with black markings. Its has hair on its thorax and abdomen, but it is not as hairy as bees. The male has seven segments on its abdomen, whereas the female has six segments. Its eyes are shaped like the letter C. The female worker hornet has a stinger at the end of her abdomen. The male has antennae with 13 segments, whereas the female has 12 segments.

European Hornet

European Hornet

It measures 2-3 centimetres (about 1 inch) long.

The European Hornet is widespread across Europe, from Japan to the United Kingdom.

It is carnivorous, feeding on insects, such as beetles and other wasps, but also moths, dragonflies and praying mantises. It also eats fruit and sweet food.

The female European Hornet has a stinger as a defence mechanism.

It lives in colonies of several thousand individuals.

The European Hornet makes a nest from plant and soil in its environment. It chews twigs, leaves, and plant fibres to make a paper-like nest, with an entrance hole at the base. It builds the nests in dark places, such as tree hollows.

The queen hornet lays eggs in the combs inside the nest. Worker hornets look after the eggs and the hatched young hornets.

[Location of photograph: Tbilisi, Georgia]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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