A very large relative of the Common Wasp, the Hornet lives mostly in woodland and parkland where it builds a large, paper nest in a hollow tree, old building or even roof spaces. The queens emerge from hibernation in spring and start to build the nest by chewing up wood. Inside the nest, sterile workers hatch and take over looking after the new young produced by the queen. At the end of summer, reproductive males and queens develop and leave the nest to mate. The males and previous queen die, and the new females hibernate, ready to emerge next spring and start the cycle again. Hornets catch a wide variety of invertebrates, mainly to feed to their larvae; they feed themselves on high-energy substances like nectar and sap.
How to identify
Hornets can be recognised by their large size, and because they have brown and yellow stripes, not black and yellow stripes like other wasps.
Where to find it
Widespread in south and central Britain, expanding their range northwards.
When to find it
How can people help
As well as being good pest controllers, Hornets are also important pollinators. Despite this, they can be a serious pest when nesting in houses and out-buildings. If you find a nest in an inconvenient or dangerous place, call your local council to find out about its safe removal. If it's not in a place that's bothering you, try simply leaving it alone - it'll be empty by autumn and just might help your gardening in the meantime! The Wildlife Trusts regularly work with pest controllers to find the most wildlife-friendly solutions to some of our everyday problems, and also advise people on how best to garden for all kinds of wildlife: visit our Wild About Gardens website to find out more.