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European hornet - Vespa crabro
European hornet - Vespa crabro

European hornet
The European hornet (Vespa crabro) is also known as the giant hornet, the old world hornet or the brown hornet. This species belongs to the family Vespidae, in the order Hymenoptera, the suborder Apocrita, the superfamily Vespoidea, the subfamily Vespinae and the genus hornets (Vespa). There are several sub-species of Vespra crabro, for example: Vespa crabro crabro, Vespa crabro germana, Vespa crabro vexator, Vespa crabro crabroniformis, Vespa crabro borealis, Vespa crabro oberthuri, Vespa crabro flavofasciata, Vespa crabro altaica, Vespa crabro caspica and Vespa crabro chinensis.
Vespa crabro - Side view
Vespa crabro - Side view
The european hornet is found throughout the Palearctic zone and in the USA. Vespa crabro crabro and Vespa crabro germana are only found in Central Europe. In some regions of Germany the european hornet has disappeared and therefore this species is protected by law.
Vespinae - European hornet
Vespinae - European hornet
Vespa crabro reproduce once a year. As a social wasp, it counts among the colony building insects. The colony has a life span of one year. The population comprises 100 to 700 (in extreme cases up to 1000) hornets.
Vespa crabro
Vespa crabro
The queen european hornet, is 25-35 mm in length, the female workers, 15-25 mm, and the drones 20-30 mm. The crown of the head and the cheeks are a reddish-copper colou. The face is without markings. While the antennae of the drones comprises 13 segments, those of the females have only 12 segments. The eyes of the hornet are clearly visible and appear in the shape of a "C". The thorax and abdomen of european hornets are hairy. The upper surface of the chest (thorax) of the subspecies Vespa crabro crabro is dark coloured in the middle, while the subspecies Vespa crabro germana have a narrow red marking shaped like a "V" on their Mesoscutum. The abdomen has the typical black-brown/yellow colouration of wasps, and comprises 7 segments in the drones, 6 segments in the females. which besides is fitted with with 2 numbers of similar dripped designs, The females have a poisonous sting at the end of their abdomens; the drones lack this sting but have, in its place, sex organs. The wings of the european hornet are reddish-orange in colour. A characteristic feature of this insect (apart from the body size) is the deep humming tone produced when flying.
European hornet
European hornet
Due to its appearance the european hornet can be confused with some other flying insects, for instance, the hornet mimic hoverfly (Volucella zonaria), the moths Sesia bembeciformis and Sesia apiformis, as well as some members of the family Cimbicidae. Vespa crabro are easily confused with oriental hornets (Vespa orientalis), and the female workers look very similar to the queen of the median wasp (Dolichovespula media).
European hornet - Top view
European hornet - Top view
Female worker european hornets live for 3-4 weeks, drones,1-2 months, and the queen, up to 14 months. The queen, is the only member of the colony who overwinters. In the middle of April she leaves her hiding place and at the beginning of May,starts to establish a new nest. To this end she first builds a honeycomb, which she covers with a paper-like mass made from chewed wood. The queen lays fertilized eggs in this honeycomb. After the larvae have hatched the queen takes care of the brood, feeding the larvae with insects and spiders until they pupate in early June. These larvae will become the female workers. As soon as the young female workers have left their pupae, they take over nearly all activities of the queen, who then almost exclusively lays eggs, up to 40 a day in late summer. With strong heat the female workers move their wings, in order to cooling of the nest and thus to save the brood from too much heat.
Vespa crabro
Vespa crabro
A hierarchy develops amongst the female workers of the new hornet colony which resembles the pecking order amongst chickens and this can create aggression, which leads to more or less heavy fighting between individual female workers. When this happens workers may sting each other resulting in deaths. If the population of the nest expands greatly and there is no room for further development all the hornets move to a more suitable place and establish a new nest (branch formation).
Adult european hornetsí main tasks are brood care, protection of the nest against enemies, and the hunt, both by day and night,for insects such as flies, wasps, bees, moths, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars or Odonata to feed the queen or the larvae. They themselves feed on tree sap , plant juices, nectar, fruits or honeydew. In autumn the young queens and drones hatch. In late September or early October the drones start fightings between themselves in order to fertilize the young queens. While the fertilized queens find hiding places to overwinter , the remainder of the population dies with the first night frosts.
Humans pose the greatest threat to the european hornet; they kill hornets out of stupidness, senselessness, superstition and quite often deliberately, and they destroy their biotopes. The bee moth (Aphomia sociella) is a parasite of the european hornet. Its larvae cover the honeycombs with webs and eat the brood beneath.
The rove beetle (Velleius dilatatus) is a constant co-inhabitant in the hornet nest. Its stay does not unfavorably affect the population of the nest.

Vespa crabro
Common namesHornet, European hornet, Old World Hornet
German namesHornisse, Europäische Hornisse
Dutch namesHoornaar
Danish namesStor Gedehams
Finnish namesHerhiläinen, Herhiläiset
Norwegian namesGeithams
Swedish namesBålgeting
Spanish namesAbejorro, Avispon
Italian namesCalabrone
French namesFrelon, Frelon européen, Guichard, Guêpe frelon
Portuguese namesVespa grande
AuthorCarl von Linné (Carl Nilsson Linnæus), 1758

North Europe (British Isles (United Kingdom (Great Britain (England (South England (Southeast England (Kent)), English Midlands (East Midlands (Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire)), East England (Essex)))), Ireland), Germany (West Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia)), Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), Fennoscandia (Finland), Baltic region (Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia))), West Europe (Austria, France (South France (Corsica)), Switzerland, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg)), South Europe (Italy (Italy Islands (Sicily, Sardinia)), Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal)), Central Europe (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic (Moravia, Bohemia), Slovakia), Southeast Europe (Romania, Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (Serbia)), Bulgaria, Greece, Albania), East Europe (Belarus)
Far East (East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea (South Korea)), Southeast Asia (Thailand)), West Asia (Near East (Turkey, Iran)), Central Asia (Turkestan (Turkmenistan))
Georgia, Azerbaijan
North America
Mexico, USA (Florida, Louisiana, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Mississippi, New Jersey, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Alabama, New York, Virginia, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, South Dakota, Delaware, Vermont, North Dakota)
Norfolk Island

Ecozones: Nearctic

CountriesAlbania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA, United Kingdom
Links and ReferencesVespa crabro in
Vespa crabro in
Vespa crabro in
Vespa crabro in
Vespa crabro in Wikipedia (English)

Description of images / photos
Photography with Cameras
Nikon D3x, Nikon D300, Canon 50D
Image editing with Photoshop
1. European hornet - Vespa crabro
2. Vespa crabro - Side view
3. Vespinae - European hornet
4. Vespa crabro
5. European hornet
6. European hornet - Top view
7. Vespa crabro
Quick search: Hornet - European - Vespa - Hornets - Queen - Size
Subspecies - Drone - Enemies - Vespidae - Wasp - Giant - Life - Nest
Sources, links and more informations
European hornet in Wikipedia
Protection of hornets
Hornets (Family) in Wikipedia
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Social Wasps, Potter Wasps, Yellowjackets, Paper wasps, Hornets, Paper, Potter & Pollen wasps, Wasps, Mason Wasps, Pollen Wasps, Vespid wasps
Wasps, Yellowjackets, Hornets
Vespa crabro
Hornet, European hornet, Old World Hornet
AuthorLinnaeus, 1758
Polistes moltonii
Polistes nimpha irakensis
Polistes opinabilis
Vespa borealis
Vespa crabro
Vespa crabro germana
Vespa diadema
Vespa flavofasciata
Vespa germana
Vespa major
Vespa nimpha
Vespa tartarea
Vespa vexator
Vespa vulgata
Vespa crabro altaica
Vespa crabro birulai
Vespa crabro caspica
Vespa crabro crabro
Vespa crabro crabroniformis
Vespa crabro flavofasciata
Vespa crabro germana
Vespa crabro gribodoi
Vespa crabro meridionalis
Vespa crabro oberthuri
Vespa crabro vexator
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Vespa crabro (24)
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