Beginners bees, wasps & ants: Vespa crabro - hornet

Vespa crabro - hornet

The hornet is Britain's largest wasp species and is predominantly yellow-orange and brown in coloration. It nests in cavities in old trees and in outbuildings. Typical habitat is old mature woodland and wood pasture. The range extends northwards only as far as South Yorkshire. The hornet is generally secretive and docile in habit.

Key features

  • Yellow-orange and brown coloration
  • Maximum size of queens is around 3cm in length
  • Queens emerge from hibernation in April
  • Nests typically in cavities, and reach maturity in late September

Similar species

The hornet is often confused with the Median wasp (Dolichovespula media), the giant horntail (Uroceras gigas) and several larger hoverflies (eg Volucella zonaria). In recent years hornets have been misidentified as Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina), which has now been recorded  in Britain and Giant Asian Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) - which has never been recorded in Britain. With care, hornets can be distinguished easily from this large army of lookalikes


For more information on Vespa crabro

Download an information sheet on Vespa crabro - hornetVespa velutina - Asian hornet and Dolichovespula media - median wasp


Submit a record online here

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Photo: Worker Vespa crabro by Steven Falk

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