Currently viewing the category: "Hornets and Yellow Jackets"
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Subject: Ginormous Yellow Jacket/Wasp/Spawn of Satan
Location: Suburbs of Cleveland, OH; near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park
August 12, 2015 5:46 am
Dear Bugman,
I hope this message finds you well. Every Spring, I find a few of these monstrosities in my house, and they kinda creep me out. This year, as usual, they were buzzing around my windows, trying to escape into the outside world, where they can then eat children and small pets, but I’ve also found them outside my house this Summer. Recently, I found two engaged in a duel to the death on my driveway, then, last night, I heard what I thought was a helicopter landing in my front yard, but it turned out to be another one of these big sumbitches buzzing around my porch light. Finally, this morning, I saw what I assumed was a hummingbird, but it was actually another one of these big jerks, which landed briefly on my driveway, picked something up, then scurried off to a nearby oak tree. Any chance you can please tell me what they are, and whether or not I should just burn my house down to get rid of them? Alive, they are about 2″ long, but shrink to about an inch after an entire can of wasp/hornet spray has been deployed against them. Thanks for your help!
Signature: Kenneth F Mucha II

European Hornets:  Battling Queens

European Hornets: Battling Queens

Dear Kenneth,
These are European Hornets,
Vespa crabro, an Invasive Exotic species that according to BugGuide was introduced to eastern North America in the nineteenth century.  These are top of the food chain insect predators that are able to dispatch much larger native predators including Dragonflies.  According to BugGuide:  “Paper nest is built in hollow trees, or in human structures such as attics. Adults come to lights.”  We cannot recall any reports of people being stung by European Hornets, but we imagine they will defend the nest and we also imagine the sting could be quite painful.  We believe your images document battling Queen European Hornets, perhaps fighting over prime real estate for nest construction.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large black wasp/bee?
Location: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
August 11, 2015 12:29 pm
Hey there, I seem to have quite a few of these rather large insects enjoying the flowers on the backyard.
Other than some white markings on either end, they are all black, about 1 to 1,1/4in long very solid body.
I have never seen anything like these before, so I’m not sure if they are yet another ‘import’ or I’ve just never really noticed them in the past?
Signature: Mr. Ashley Mills

Bald Faced Hornet

Bald Faced Hornet

Dear Mr. Ashley Mills,
Your images are of native social wasps known as Bald Faced Hornets.  In the spring, a mated Queen Bald Faced Hornet begins a new nest by chewing wood into pulp and constructing the nest from paper.  By the end of the season, the nest is quite large and populated by hundreds of worker Hornets.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Swamp Darner attacked by hornet
Location: Rochester, NY
August 10, 2015 1:51 pm
Hi!
While trying to identify the dragonfly in my picture I came across this post of yours:
https://www.whatsthatbug.com/2009/09/03/european-hornet-eats-dragonfly-unknown-darner/
and the comments led me to correctly identify the dragonfly as a Swamp Darner, as it is identical to the photos and descriptions on BugGuide, here: http://www.bugguide.net/node/view/2584 The dragonfly pictured was easily 4-5 inches in length.
I believe the attacker may be a European Hornet, as it look very similar to the insect in the original post?
I took this photo August 8th in Rochester, NY. I noticed a loud buzzing and the sound of the dragonfly hitting the glass door several times as he valiantly attempted to keep flying and fend off his attacker. The efforts became more feeble and the hornet appeared to be crawling around going straight for the underside of the thorax. The dragonfly kept curling his abdomen, but after several minutes he seemed pretty much gone, and I could have sworn I heard crunching- the hornet eating his prize.
It was a pretty incredible sight; the kids I was babysitting had very different reactions. The 9 year old, “it’s probably laying eggs in the dragonfly,” and walked away unconcerned. The 2 year old kept trying to go touch it and seemed very concerned for the dragonfly’s well-being.
I thought you might appreciate the picture. Sorry it’s captioned; it’s the only one I had time to get while keeping a 2 year old away from touching!
Signature: Jamie

Swamp Darner attacked bt European Hornet

Swamp Darner attacked bt European Hornet

Hi Jamie,
Your image is an excellent documentation of this Food Chain scenario, but your written account of the observation is especially interesting.  We agree the predator is a European Hornet, and the long term effect that these top of the Food Chain introduced Invasive Exotic predators is having on the native insect population like this Swamp Darner may or may not be significant.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large insect with wasp prey
Location: West coast of British Columbia
July 29, 2015 3:43 pm
I took these photos on July 29/15 in the town of Nanaimo, on the west coast of British Columbia. This awesome creature was on a salal leaf, in a dry forest of Douglas fir, hemlock, and arbutus. I wanted to get a side view shot as well, but it must have been bothered by my intrusion into its juicy meal, and flew away. Can you tell what species it is? I think I’ve narrowed it down to the Laphria genus, Robber flies.
Thanks a lot. Love your site!
Signature: John Segal

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Yellowjacket

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Yellowjacket

Dear John,
Because of the thick antennae that helps to identify the genus, we agree that this is a Bee-Like Robber Fly in the genus
Laphria, and after searching through 10 pages of species on BugGuide, we have narrowed down the possibilities to five species that have yellow thoracic hair and that generally resemble your individual, which appears to be feeding on a Yellowjacket based on this facial closeup on BugGuide.    The abdomen on Laphria fernaldi appears too orange to be your species.  In alphabetical order, the most similar looking species on BugGuide are:  Laphria astur Laphria janusLaphria partitor and Laphria unicolor.  Of those, we believe the images of Laphria astur on BugGuide look the closest, but we are by no means experts in the identification of Robber Flies.  Thanks for your excellent Food Chain contribution, and in the future, we can accept larger digital files to ensure the highest quality of the images on our site.

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Yellow Jacket

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Yellowjacket

Hi Daniel,
Thanks very much for helping me identify an insect I’ve never seen before.  I really appreciate it.
Those photos are about 650 X 450 KB; the size I use for email. Let me know if you’d like me to send them again, as larger files, and what the maximum size is that you can receive.
Thanks again.  Excellent website you have there!
John

Hi John,
We can easily accept 5MB files.  We are then able to crop into details like the antennae on this Bee-Like Robber Fly.  You may send them larger and we will crop to some details.

Hi Daniel,
Great! Okay, here are my two photos, each about 1.7 MB.
Thanks again for your great website, and all the work you do for us bug-curious types!
John

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Yellowjacket

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Yellowjacket

Thanks for sending the higher resolution files.  Since you already cropped the images the first time, we were not able to magnify much more, but we did move a bit closer.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Tree Party!
Location: Va Beach, VA
July 16, 2015 5:33 pm
June bugs with ??? Wasp? Hornet?
Signature: Thanks!

Green June Beetles and Bald Faced Hornets feeding on sap.

Green June Beetles and Bald Faced Hornets feeding on sap.

You are correct.  There must be sweet sap running from this tree, and sap with its high sugar content is an excellent food for many species of insects, including the Green June Beetles and Bald Faced Hornets in your image.  It appears there is also an Ant in the lower edge of your image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bald faced hornet nest?
Location: Connecticut
June 7, 2015 5:23 pm
Sorry for posting twice! We wonder if this is a bald faced hornet nest and what you can tell us about it? Thanks!
Signature: Don’t understand

New Hornets Nest

New Hornets Nest

This does indeed appear to be a newly constructed Bald Faced Hornets Nest, and we are supposing that the only flying inhabitant at this time is the queen, though her initial brood is probably developing in the nest now.  Toward the end of the season, the nest will grow to the size of a football, or even larger, and according to The Study of Northern Virginia Ecology:  “One nest may hold up to 700 hornets.”  Bald Faced Hornets are not considered aggressive, but they will defend the nest and they are capable of stinging. 

Thank you for your quick response! It is amazing what bees can do! Let me know if you would like more photos as it progresses. Have a wonderful day! Cheryl

Hi Cheryl,
We are happy to hear you are going to let the nest develop.  We would love additional images.  We are going to be away until the end of June and not responding to emails in our absence, but by the time we return there should be changes in the appearance and activity around the nest.
  Please continue to use Bald Faced Hornet Nest as the subject line.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination