European Giant Hornet, Vespa crabro
Vespidae or Hornet Family

Worker killing a spider

A large, scary wasp, up to an inch and a half long, the largest known hornet. Abdomen is yellow, with black markings on each segment. Thorax and head are reddish, with narrow black compound eyes. Wings are long, narrow and brown. Live in colonies of a single reproductive queen with many female workers. Colonies build large paper nests in sheltered places, often inside hollow trees or man-made structures such as attics Workers sting and kill insects and spiders, bring them back to the nest, chew them up and feed them to the larvae. Adult workers subsist mostly on nectar, fruit juices, sap from chewed twigs, and a sugary secretion the larvae feed back to them.

As with many other wasps and bees, the hive produces new queens and male drones in late summer which fly off and mate. The drones die and fertile queens find somewhere safe to hibernate the winter. Meanwhile the entire colony from which they came dies during the winter. In the spring, the new queens found new nests and raise the first few young themselves. These young then take over as workers.

Workers are said to be inoffensive to humans; they know they can't chew us up for their young. However, they will sting if provoked or if their nest is attacked. Their sting is said to be very painful, and is much more likely to cause an allergic reaction than bee or yellowjacket venom.

An immigrant from Europe, first reported in New York in the mid-nineteenth century and spreading slowly westward and southward. Prefers wooded areas over urban or suburban areas. Has been seen foraging in Wildwood, but it is not known if it has nested here. The pictures show a worker killing a black and yellow garden spider to bring home to her colony.

Worker killing a spider



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