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Vespa crabro L.
Insecta, Hymenoptera, Vespidae .


Description, Biology, Life Cycle, Damage, Common Names, Images

The largest European wasp; the female measures 25 to 35 mm long, males and workers are smaller. In males, the antennae have 13 segments, while females have 12. The male abdomen is composed of 7 visible segments, while that of the female has 6; females are equipped with an ovipositor. Eyes are deeply indented, shaped like a C.
Wings are reddish-orange, the petiolated abdomen is orange striped with brown (*) .

- The hornet is essentially apredator of a wide variety of insects, including the honey bee. It becomes increasingly phytophagous in the summer, with a diet of sugary liquids: sap, juices of ripe fruits: (grapes, apples, pears, plums), and nectar.
- Larvae are nourished by the adults with mixture of captured insects, paralyzed and masticated, which they regurgitate.
- A social insect, living in a nest.
- The imago usually flies in daytime, but also at night during humid, windless weather.
- The nest is constructed from a hardened paste, made up of bark masticated with saliva. When fully completed, it is made up of layered combs, surrounded by several layers of hardened paste shell.
The nest measures 30 to 40 cm in diameter and never contains more than a few hundred individuals.
It is sited in hollow tree trunks and walls. Old nests are never reused.
- Hornets forage up to 1500 m from their nest.

[R]Life Cycle
- As for all wasps (Vespulae), the colonies die out in winter. Only fertilized females overwinter, founding new colonies close to their winter shelter.
Queens appear from mid-April, workers are active until mid-October.
- The queen lays an egg in each cell of the comb inside the nest she has constructed (a single row of cells suspended from a stalk); thereafter, the workers care for and nourish the young (larvae and pupae) and enlarge the nest.
- Males and queens of the new generation are formed in summer; after mating, the fertilized queens overwinter, while males and workers die before the onset of winter.

Hornets make holes in ripe fruits (particularly grapes) to obtain sugar (*) (*) , scrape off the tender bark of young deciduous forest trees (*) to obtain construction materials and sugary sap, raid beehives and sometimes stores of jams and other foodstuffs.
Hornet stings may sometimes be dangerous to man and domestic animals.
To feed its larvae, the hornet is entomophagous, which, on balance, renders it a beneficial insect to agriculture.

The hornet lives throughout most of Europe, but is never found north of the 63rd parallel. It is also found in the United States and Canada.

[R]Common Names
DE: Hornisse, Faltenwespe ES: Abejorro, Avispon FR: Frelon, GuÍpe frelon, Guichard IT: Calabrone PT: Vespa grande GB: Hornet

[R] Images

  1. Vespa crabro L. (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Overwintered female, resuming activity in the spring
  2. Vespa crabro L. (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Damage to pear Worker feeding.
  3. Vespa crabro L. (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Damage on young apples Workers removed the epidermis of peduncles, which will fruits to fall prematurerly.
  4. Vespa crabro L. (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Damage to ash The bark has been torn to pieces.

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