Currently viewing the category: "Hornets and Yellow Jackets"

Subject:  I got stung by a swarm
Geographic location of the bug:  In my yard Norfolk in Virginia
Date: 10/14/2021
Time: 10:43 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  I’m trying to find out what the bug is that stung me and I was hoping you could help me identify it
How you want your letter signed:  On the front


You were stung by a Yellowjacket, a social wasp that typically nests underground.  Yellowjackets will defend the nest from the perceived threats.

Subject:  Big wasp looking thing
Geographic location of the bug:  Frederick County Maryland
Date: 10/06/2019
Time: 04:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Saw this big bee/wasp eating a fig in my garden. Much bigger than anything I’ve seen here.
How you want your letter signed:  Garden Guy

European Hornet

Dear Garden Guy,
As you can see by comparing your image to this BugGuide image, you encountered a European Hornet.  According to BugGuide:  “native to Eurasia,
V. c. germana introduced to e. N. Amer. (1800s).”

Subject:  Is there a special name for this unusual wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Manchester, UK
Date: 08/22/2019
Time: 03:24 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
A friend of mine saw this wasp a few days ago and thought it was unusual, so he decided to take a picture. He has red feet and a bit of a long nose (the wasp, not my friend). I think he just looks like a normal wasp, but my friend wonders if there’s a special name for him.
Is he special? Or just a run-of-the-mill wasp?
How you want your letter signed:  The person who asked you about a boxelder bug 15 years ago


Dear person,
This looks to us to be a Yellowjacket.  According to CountryFile:  ”  What is the most common wasp species found in the UK?  The wasp in question is the yellowjacket (
Vespula vulgaris), the black and stripy species you often find yourself swatting away. The reputation of this and a few other species has tarred that of another 200,000.”  Social wasps like the Yellowjacket sting much more readily than do solitary wasps.  If we identified a Boxelder Bug for you 15 years ago, you have a very long history with our site.

Subject:  I’m resending bald-face hornet girdling gridwork on bark.
Geographic location of the bug:  Tonasket WA
Date: 06/27/2019
Time: 08:11 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I sent this about a week ago and got the confirmation e-mail and I realize you can’t post everything. I did kinda wonder if the picture came thru as I’m on Windows 7 and I’ve had problems with the upload before. So, just checking. I was told BF hornets did it. I thought, Makes sense, thy use the bark to make their paper nests. Then I looked it up! I read they do it to make the sap run and then they eat it! They are “vegan?” and only gather insects and B-B-Q (haha) to provision their babies. Apparently they can girdle a tree, but this pattern leaves bark and cambium to continue the sap flow. Can you verify this behavior? Or if something else did, do you know who? I don’t think it’s our red-naped sapsucker, they leave a grid work of little round drilled holes, and they’re the only sapsuckers we have. Thanks.
How you want your letter signed:  Cathy

Did Hornets damage this tree???

Dear Cathy,
We cannot confirm that Hornets damaged this tree, but if your theory is correct, they should revisit the site to feed.  We have images on our site of European Hornets (introduced to eastern North America) stripping the bark off of lilac bushes.  We will attempt further research into this matter.

Subject:  What kind of nest is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Near roof under eaves
Date: 06/08/2019
Time: 08:10 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We found this nest under the roof of our house in northern Illinois
How you want your letter signed:  Zena

Bald Faced Hornets Nest

Dear Zena,
This looks like the nest of a Bald Faced Hornet in its early stages of construction.  When complete, it will be about the size of a football.  According to Bee Friendly:  “Bald Faced Hornets become active each year in the early spring (March-April) when the fertile Queen comes out of her underground winter den and begins to forage on flies and other insects, including smaller wasps and bees, while she scouts for a nesting site for the coming year. The new colony will typically build up its population, through the Spring and Summer months (May-Sept), to an average number of 700 members. During the cooler weather of the Autumn (late Oct.) the colony will produce short lived male wasps and fertile females that will then mate and seek out hibernation dens for the winter.The entire colony will eventually die off in mid to late November when the prey insects have all disappeared.”  Hornets will not reuse an old nest.  Hornets are social wasps and they will defend the nest.  Hopefully the nest is high enough in the eaves that human movements will not alarm the inhabitants.  They will sting to protect the nest.

Subject:  European hornet ?
Geographic location of the bug:  north Georgia
Date: 05/02/2019
Time: 06:13 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Found this hornets’ nest at the base of a tree in north Georgia.  The guards at the entrance were all fanning the nest.  I think this is the European hornet but would like confirmation.  Sorry the photos are blurry – actually they are freeze frames from a long video clip.  FWIW I am a Patreon donor to WTB!
How you want your letter signed:  Bruce Carlson

European Hornets

Hi Bruce,
Thanks for your patronage.  We apologize for the delay, but Daniel is currently in Ohio for Mother’s Day and the internet here is woefully slow.  These are definitely European Hornets. At first we were not convinced this is a nest because European Hornets and many other Wasps will feed on sap that is oozing from trees.  According to BugGuide:  “Paper nest is built in hollow trees, or in human structures such as attics” so we also concur that this is a nest.

European Hornets