How to Identify Hornets and Wasps

While more than 500 hundred species of wasps and hornets live in Canada, only 5 of these wasps and hornets cause the most problems for home and businesses. As well, be on the lookout for one big, invasive hornet.

 

Paper Wasps - Paper wasps are black-and-yellow striped and about 1 to 3 cm long. Their long legs hang below them while they fly. Paper wasps are named for the paper-like material they make to construct their upside-down, umbrella-shaped nests. The nests are typically small with individual cells of the nest clearly visible. Nests are found under eaves, decks, porch ceilings, behind shutters, and inside vent louvers, coach lamps and hollow playground equipment.

 

Yellowjackets – Yellowjackets (or Yellow Jackets) are yellow and black and about 10 to 16 mm long. They are aggressive scavengers and are most noticeable in late summer. Nests contain up to 5,000 workers and are hidden in the ground, hollow trees, within walls, inside attics and even in the hollow legs of patio furniture. Yellow jackets forcefully defend their nest.

 

Mud Dauber Wasps – A solitary wasp species, mud daubers make tube-shaped nests out of mud that are attached to exterior walls and ceilings. The female wasp preys on spiders. She puts the spider in the nest, lays an egg on it and seals the spider up inside. The egg then hatches, and the wasp larva feeds on the spider. Mud daubers can be black, black and yellow, or bright blue in colour. They range in size from 2.5 to 5 cm.

 

Bald Faced Hornet – This hornet is mostly black in colour and has a white face. As such, it also is called the white-faced hornet. The hornets are 12 to 15 mm long. Bald faced hornets typically make football-shaped nests high in trees, the peaks of houses, and in shrubs. The nests are covered in a paper-like material and can be quite large. Bald-faced hornets typically don’t threaten people unless the nest is located close to human activity. The hornets sting when the nest is threatened. The bald face hornet sting is painful, like that of other wasps.

 

European Hornet – Also called the giant hornet or brown hornet, this insect is 18 to 33 mm long. It is brown in colour with yellow stripes on its abdomen and a pale face. It nests in hollow trees, attics, porches and inside wall voids. Any visible parts of the nest will be covered by a brown, paper-like material. The hornets strip the bark off trees and shrubs to drink the sap and they use the bark fiber to build their nests. As such, European hornets can damage these plants.

 

Asian Giant Hornet (Frelon Asiatique) – This invasive hornet recently made headlines in Canada. It is a very large (35 to 50 mm) and has an orange face. It has been found in numerous locations in British Columbia in recent years. Experts have taken measure to eradicate this non-native pest, which attacks honeybee hives and delivers a most powerful sting. Report sightings of this hornet to the Invasive Species Council of BC.

 

Also read:

How to Get Rid of Hornets and Wasps

What are Carpenter Bees?

 

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