What are the differences between the Asian Hornet and the European Hornet?

What are the differences between the Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) and the European Hornet (Vespa crabro)?

The Asian Hornet and the European Hornet are both insects in the family of eusocial wasps. They both live in colonies of several thousand individuals.

The Asian Hornet has a smooth, black and yellow-orange body with yellow legs and black wings, whereas the European Hornet has a smooth, black and yellow body with distinctive yellow legs and reddish-orange wings.

Asian Hornet (left) and European Hornet (right)

The Asian Hornet has brown abdominal segments with a narrow yellow border, except for the fourth segment, which is orange, whereas the European Hornet has yellow abdominal segments with black markings.

The female worker Asian Hornet and the female worker European Hornet have a smooth stinger that can repeatedly sting an animal. 

The Asian Hornet is slightly smaller than the European Hornet.

The Asian Hornet has a paper-like nest with an entrance at the side, whereas the European Hornet has a paper-like nest with an entrance at the base.

In both the Asian Hornet and the European Hornet colonies, the queen hornet lays eggs in the combs inside the nest. Worker hornets look after the eggs and the hatched young hornets.

The Asian Hornet is native to Asia, and the European Hornet is widespread across Europe, with overlapping regions. For example, the Asian Hornet can be found as far west as Portugal, and the European Hornet can be found as far east as Japan. They are generally invasive outside their native areas. 

Asian Hornet
European Hornet

[Location of photographs: Paris, France, and Tbilisi, Georgia]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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