Here in the lower mainland the most common hornet in which people encounter are bald-faced hornets. Bald-faced hornets are most commonly mistaken for wasps. Although they are closely linked by size and body structure they lack the yellow colouring. These hornets grow to a size of averaging 2-3 cm long(adults) and can become extremely territorial.
You can distinguish hornets from other wasps and bees by the rounded gasters, or the part of the abdomen behind the wasp’s waist, and by the width of the vertex, which is the part of the head behind the eyes.
Because wasps and bees have many physical similarities, it’s easiest to distinguish between them by looking at their homes. Their hives are constructed from papery pulp that they make by chewing pieces of wood.
Similar to bees, a queen rules the hive and is the only female to produce eggs. Most of the other members of the hive are non-reproducing female workers who perform the all of the hive community’s duties, such as building, gathering food, taking care of the young and protecting the hive. The males’ only task is to mate with the queen and usually die right after mating.
Hornets normally feed on nectar and sugary plant foods like the tree sap, rotting sweet fruits, and honey. This is why hornets are often seen around picnic areas and outside food establishments. They are attracted to almost anything sweet. They can be found in orchards and fruit groves when the trees are ripe with fruit and will burrow deep into a piece of hanging fruit to get to the sweet pulp. If you are picking fruit off a tree in the summer months, be careful not to bite into a fruit with a hornet it it! Adult hornets will prey on other insects as well, such as bees, grasshoppers, and locusts, but sweet foods are their favourite.
Worker females will aggressively defend the hive with their stingers. However, they seldom attack humans unless provoked, or if the hive is threatened. Hornets normally won’t attack without reason, especially outside the hive. Studies have shown that the stings of hornets are no more dangerous than other wasps and bees. It is the hornet’s larger size and noisy flying sounds that cause fear. By swatting at hornets, you have a greater chance of being stung since the hornet perceives it as a threat. Three things should be avoided when near a hornet or hornets’ nest: blocking the flight path, moving or breathing on the nests, and any rapid movements, such as running or swatting.
If hornets are anywhere around your home, they can be a threat to your safety and the safety of your family and friends. They are extremely sensitive anything foreign to them, especially if they consider it a threat to the hive. Once they sense a threat, they will attack anything or anyone who is near the hive. To make matters worse, they will attack in the hundreds. This is why, if you have a hornets’ nest in your outside living areas, you better have it removed by OnSite, especially if you have children playing in your yard.
When dealing with a large hive or multiple hives, it is best to call in the professionals to handle hive removal. It is easy to kill one or two hornets but a whole different ballgame when dealing with a hive full of hundreds of stinging insects.
Treatment for hornets usually will consist of a spray. This is to ensure that once the colony has been killed and the nest(in most cases) has been removed, any remaining members will be deterred from returning to the area.
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