Currently viewing the category: "Hornets and Yellow Jackets"

Subject:  Cicada Killer Wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Thurmont, MD
August 26, 2017 7:21 AM
We have a large number of very large bees hanging around our lilac tree. I think they might be cicada killers, but I’m not positive. They also seem to be eating/drinking something from the branches of the tree. Maybe sap? I just wanted to be sure they are the nonaggressive wasps and not something we should worry about right next to our front porch. Also, will they kill the tree?
Signature:  Joan Hertel

European Hornet gathering bark

Dear Joan,
This is NOT a Cicada Killer, but a European Hornet.  We have gotten reports in the past of European Hornets stripping bark off lilac bushes.  European Hornets are social wasps that construct a nest from paper pulp that they manufacture by chewing bark.  According to BugGuide the habitat is:  “Woodlands. Paper nest is built in hollow trees, or in human structures such as attics. Adults come to lights” and “Predatory on other insects, used to feed young. Also girdle twigs to drink sap.”  Social Wasps will defend a nest by stinging, but to the best of our knowledge, European Hornets are not considered aggressive.

European Hornet

Thank you so much for the quick reply! I’m glad I asked you as my husband mows under that bush and has disturbed them, but no stings so far. Is there something we could use on the lilac to discourage them from stripping the bark? I don’t want to kill them as long as they aren’t in my attic, but I’d like them to leave my lilac alive and uninjured.
Thank you!
Sorry Joan,

We do not know how to discourage them from stripping bark from your lilac, but we don’t believe their actions will have a lasting negative effect on the health of the plant.


Subject: Tell me what this is please
Location: East Sussex UK
August 19, 2017 2:01 pm
I have a big wasp like bug but it has a furry body. Can you tell me what it is please? It was in a jar of jam three day ago.
Signature: Kind regards?

Hornet Mimic Hover Fly and Yellowjackets

Unlike the surrounding Yellowjackets that are able to sting to defend themselves or their nest, the Hornet Mimic Hover Fly in the middle of your image neither stings nor bites, so it depends upon its protective mimicry to keep it safe from predators.  Many Hover Flies or Flower Flies in the family Syrphidae mimic stinging wasps and bees for protection.  You can compare your individual to this image on the British Hoverflies site to verify our identification.  We suspect these critters were accidentally attracted to the jam jar when it was unintentionally left uncovered.

Subject: Bug eating yellow jacket
Location: Just east of Toledo Ohio
August 18, 2017 2:07 pm
What’s this bug? Seen on a F150 killing a yellow jacket. Really big and interesting. Thank you
Signature: lilli

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Yellowjacket

Dear Lilli,
This Giant Robber Fly in the genus
Promachus appears to be a Red Footed Cannibalfly.  Giant Robber Flies frequently prey upon large stinging insects like wasps and bees.

Wow tyvm. It was the most interesting bug I have seen in a very long time. Never seen it before is it rare?

Sightings on BugGuide cover about 1/4 of North America, and sightings generally occur from July to September.  We get numerous identification requests for Red Footed Cannibalflies each summer, so we don’t believe they are considered rare.

Subject: What in the world is this?!
Location: Southern WV
August 7, 2017 12:32 pm
I have lived in Southern West Virginia my entire life and I have never came across a bug like this before! It almost looked like a long, huge Yellow Jacket with a thick coat of fur at the top, but the face of it looked odd. I couldn’t tell if it had a stinger or not, but the closer I got
to it, I noticed it had a yellow jacket held in its arms.
Signature: Megan Daniels

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Yellowjacket

Dear Megan,
This is one of eastern North America’s most impressive, large, predatory Robber Flies,
Promachus rufipes.  It is commonly called a Red Footed Cannibalfly, and as your image documents, they are fond of feeding on large stinging insects that they catch on the wing.

Subject: Yellow Jacket Type
Location: Stillwater, NY
August 2, 2017 9:30 am
Hello bugman,
Much thanks in your assistance here.
I have these under my deck in a really bad spot and they have already stung my dog.
I’d like to ID what type of yellow jacket they are. (If they are even yellow jackets that is)
Signature: manoktrain


Dear manoktrain,
This is a Yellowjacket, but we are not certain of the species.


Subject: Huge hornet
Location: Blythewood, SC
July 21, 2017 8:19 pm
We live in Blythewood, SC and tonight this hornet came on our deck and then 4-5 others after it was killed. I need to know what kind of hornet as I have small children and am now terrified to let them go outside.
Signature: Jessica Brasy

European Hornet

Dear Jessica,
This is a European Hornet,
Vespa crabro.  According to BugGuide:  “Woodlands. Paper nest is built in hollow trees, or in human structures such as attics. Adults come to lights.”