European Hornets at Hummingbird Feeder

Subject: hornets and nectar
Location: North Carolina
September 7, 2013 11:57 am
I am enjoying taking photos of the hornets and have started to appreciate insects now that my hummers have left for the winter. In trying to research online, I found that I don’t have much knowledge about these critters. Thought these were Japanese Hornets but now wonder if they are European. Also, thrilled to see photo of Bald Faced on your site….one identified.
I have been curiously watching these large hornets make trip after trip from the hummer feeder up into the trees. Obviously nest is up there somewhere. My question is how do they use the nectar? Is it food, used to produce something like honey bees do, feed the queen or others, or…….?
Appreciate identification and any information as to dangers from and also any benefits they may have in nature.
Any books on flying critters that you would recommend…..anything like a field guide or such?
Signature: estack

European Hornets
European Hornets

Dear estack,
Your action photos are gorgeous.  You are correct that these are European Hornets,
Vespa crabro.  Many adult wasps and hornets feed on nectar and other sweets, like overripe fruit and sap, but they hunt insects or other sources of protein to feed their larvae.  This is also true about the European Hornets.  Since European Hornets prey upon insects and they are not native, European Hornets might have a negative impact on native species.  We cannot think of a good book that concentrates on strictly flying insects, unless you want to be specific like a butterfly guide or a dragonfly guide.  For a general guide to insects, we strongly recommend Eric Eaton’s book Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America.

European Hornets
European Hornets

Thank you so much for such a quick (and kind) reply.  I hate to harm any wildlife, but these hornets have become and are quite a problem.  I may have to find an exterminator to help locate the nest and help me eliminate the main source.  They do tend to get into my house at night – following the light – and I am violently allergic to stings, as is my dog who finds them wonderful “toys” to chase.
Thank you again so very much and I’ll follow up on finding the reading material you suggested.

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