European Hornets (Vespa crabro)
The UK’s Largest Wasp
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Are European Hornets in The UK Protected?
No – but in our opinion, the control of European Hornets in Bristol and The UK should be better regulated.
The Hornet was once a relatively common sight throughout Somerset and southern England, yet during the 20th century, its numbers went into decline, only to experience a recovery in recent years.
Conservation is therefore essential, and support for this impressive flying insect predator should be carefully considered.
In some countries, notably Germany, it has been illegal to kill the European hornet or destroy their nests since 1 January 1987 (Article 20d General Protection of Wild Animals and Plants), with a fine up to 50,000 Euros.
How Dangerous are European Hornets?
Like all other wasps in Bristol, they are only aggressive when threatened or disturbed (they see this as the same thing). Read more about this in the information below.
Are Hornet Stings Dangerous?
European Hornets have larger, longer stings than other species of native wasps so inject more venom, more deeply, causing far more pain.
That said, it has been reported that the venom is less toxic to us than that of smaller wasps like the common wasp. However we all react differently to stings, and some people can die from a single sting.
As with all wasps, Hornets will defend their nests just as other species will, but take a little longer to make themselves known than smaller species of wasp.
Once you are within three meters of the nest, as long as you do not vibrate (Gardeners with mowers and strimmers beware), breath on the nest, interrupt their flight path or make sudden jerky movements you are unlikely to be attacked and stung.
Nature is fickle and so are hornets, so don’t take the risk of venturing too close!
When stung you should consider that scientific tests have shown Hornet venom to be 1.7 – 15 times less toxic than honey bee venom.
Bees are naturally more at risk from foraging vertebrate predators like badgers etc, and for this reason, the bee has a sting that continues to deliver venom even after its death.
Despite this, they cannot afford to be wasteful as they require venom to subdue insect prey, thus there sting lacks barbs.
A hornet’s sting is likely to be more painful than that of other wasps and bees. This is not because of the venom delivery dose but due to its chemical composition. The venom contains high levels of acetyl-choline which stimulating pain receptors.
What should I Do If I am Stung?
The European Hornet – Taxonomy
Length: 20 – 40mm
Eyes: Shaped like a C and deeply indented
Antennae: Males have 13 segments, Females have 12 segments
Abdomen: Males have 7 visible segments, Females have 6 visible segments – Orange with brown stripes
Wings: Reddish – orange
The European Hornet (Vespa crabro) is found across Bristol and in particular the woodland valleys of Gordano, Abbots Leigh and Failand. Hollow trees are the preferred nesting site, at all levels from the roots to the highest major branches.
They are the largest eusocial wasp in Europe and among the most impressive of all British insects. At over 35mm long, the Queen is a magnificent sight.
You always know when they are around as they produce an unmistakable and loud buzz not wildly dissimilar to the noise made by the little scooters also known as Vespas.
This buzzing and droning sounds become more intense when they are threatened or distressed. Listen carefully – they can turn on you faster than you can react to them.
When Will You See Hornets?
We are commonly called to suspected Hornets nests across Bristol at the start of the year in April and May, but these are almost always queens of other species preparing new nests or looking for suitable nesting sites.
It is not until mid-July that we get the calls to deal with massive wasps and know that this time it is likely to be the real thing.
What Does A Hornets Nest Look Like?
A mature hornets’ nest can contain close to a thousand mature adults and will consume thousands of insects every day from within a radius of around 3000 meters. This can be extremely beneficial for your gardener and is a powerful plus point to the usefulness of these insects.
European hornets nests resemble upside-down buckets and for the most part, are about the size of a football, made of chewed wood mixed with saliva to produce a pulp that sets in seconds. This is why they are also called paper wasps.
The debris from a large hornet’s nest will generate a substantial amount of waste. Because the nest is like a bucket, waste simply forms a large pile beneath the nest.
Waste piles often cause structural water damage to walls and ceilings, costing many hundreds to repair.
Moving Live Nests
Where control is felt absolutely necessary, re-siting of Hornets nests has been attempted successfully.
For this reason, the resiting of nests could be seen as a billable option for you to consider where you are environmentally conscientious and you have the expertise and an appropriate place to safely re-site the nest.
What Does a Hornets Nest Treatment Cost?
Hornet nests or Hornets hives as some people refer to them, require real care to control and treat safely. Wasp Control starts from £50.00.
At PestBristol our expert, insect control services are faster, more thorough and more flexible than many other providers.
As a result, we are usually on-site within hours or even faster if it is an emergency. We do charge a small inspection fee but this is refundable against any treatment carried out.
Are British Hornets Different?
No – British hornets are no different to European hornets. They are exactly the same species. Sometimes it can be easy to consider anything from the continent or overseas as an unwanted intruder, but these insects have been on British soil for centuries and more probably, millennia.
Bristol Hornet Control – Local Places And Areas We Cover
Bristol – Clevedon – Portishead – St Annes – St Pauls – Bath – Sneyd Park – Fishponds – Eastville – Easton – Frenchay – Filton – Westbury – Stoke Bishop – Stoke Park – Southville – Long Ashton – Patchway – Bradley Stoke