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The hornet wasp

Hearers are like wasps, but in many areas they are even more dangerous than the wasp. They are bigger and generally more aggressive than the common wasp. The hornet is relatively common in Europe, and in the Netherlands it is also the largest species of wasp found there.

Outer characteristics

So the horn-bellied wasp is the largest wasp in Western Europe and it grows to an average of 30mm, but the queen of the horn-bellied wasp often grows longer, she can grow up to 35mm. The horn string has an orange-red head which is relatively large in relation to the rest of the body, moreover it has a large head shield. It also has a relatively large face, what in the case of wasps is called the clypeus, on this face are for example elongated eyes and two clearly protruding jaws. On the rest of his body the horn string has two pairs of wings and three pairs of legs. What is unique about the hearing string is that it is yellow with black, but also partly orange-red. In addition, it is easy to recognise in the Netherlands by its size.


Hearers live on plant juices that are full of sugar juices, but to feed the larvae in their nests, they also have to catch insects. By the way, the hearers often get these sugar juices from damaged trees, they lick it up from there. Ripe fruit is also used to nibble open branches of certain trees. The larvae need protein to grow, while the worker needs sugar to move around a lot. Hearers mainly catch a lot of mosquitoes, flies and spiders. Some species of hornet are even notorious for robbing bee nests; the European hornet does not, of course, do so that we know. Contrary to most species of wasps, the hornets are more active at night, they use the moonlight or are attracted to artificial light.

Horizontal hearing wasp reproduction

Just like the common wasp, the hornet is eusocial, which means that they live in a nest where they take care of each other. Hearers only live for one year, in winter they die, except for the queen, she does hibernate. At the beginning of May the queen starts to build her nest, by then she is already fertilised. Nesting places can be, for example, a hollow tree or a birdcage. The queen builds her nest from rotting wood, from which she makes a paper-like mass herself. The queen will take care of the first leggings herself as she builds the nest, the workers who will then emerge will take care of the rest of the larvae and provide the food. Only towards the end of the summer males and fertile females will be born, so new nests can arise after the winter.


Dispersion and habitat

It is heard throughout Europe, and we also find it in parts of Asia, although it is often more aggressive. Humans have also brought it to North America, where it is now found in the southeast. In the 1950s, we thought it had disappeared completely in the Netherlands, but the numbers have increased again since then.

Natural enemies

The horned wasp has a very painful sting which causes it to be shunned by many animals and has few natural enemies. The wasp thief, which is a bird of prey, on the other hand, likes to eat hornets, which you can also think of with this name. But there are also species of beetles that prey on the larvae in the nest of the hornet, and of course parasites that are behind the hornets.


If you are stung by a hornbeam, it is important to be alert, because this sting can be dangerous. If someone doesn’t feel well after the sting, it is important to go directly to the hospital, otherwise keeping the place cool is very important.

A wasp’s nest can generally be left in place as soon as they are not annoying, otherwise it is wise, for example, to call in the fire brigade to clean it up safely.

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