Japanese Hornets

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The Japanese hornet is the largest hornet in the world and found only in temperate and tropical Eastern Asia. They are also called sparrow hornet by the Japanese. Their bodies can grow as large as 50 millimetres in length with a wingspan of up to 73 millimetres.

  • Orange and wide head when compared to other hornets
  • The eyes are a dark brown
  • Antennae are a dark brown with orange scapes
  • The posterior side of the clypeus has narrow rounded lobes
  • The mandible is very big and orange with black tips
  • Thorax and abdomen are golden
  • The large scutellum has a deeply impressed waistline
  • The postscutellum bulges over the propodeum
  • The forelegs are orange with dark brown tarsi
  • Middle and hind legs are dark brown
  • The wings are dark brown, grey

The ovipositor or the stinger is around 6 millimetres long and produces a very strong venom that can damage tissue by stimulating phospholipase. A sting from the Japanese hornet for a person with allergies is almost definitely fatal with many people without allergies with a strong enough sting are likely to die.

The venom from a Japanese hornet contains at least 8 distinct chemicals. Some of the chemicals in the venom damage tissue, cause pain and one that is a pheromone that attracts other hornets to attack. The Japanese hornet is a hunter who preys on many insects including bees, other hornets and mantises. They also feed on honey bee larvae, killing all honey bees that get in their way with ease. A single Japanese hornet can kill 40 honey bees in a single minute, with many Japanese hornets destroying a hive of 30,000 honey bees in a matter of hours.

How to Kill Hornets

Killing hornets can be very easy once you know their habits. First of all, female hornets are solitary insects who feed on other insects that are pests making them beneficial. They are also less aggressive to people than wasps and are less likely to sting than a wasp. Unlike wasps, hornets prefer live prey and prefer to hunt insects so will not buzz around your home looking for something sweet to eat.

Hornets will only normally attack if their nests are disturbed by any creature including people. This can result in a dangerous situation for some people, especially if that person has allergies.

Japanese hornet on a purple flower in the summer.

Things that will attract hornets are high protein foods such as meats. So keeping these things out of your garden is a very good idea. Things such as pet food and an unsecured bin lid in your garden can attract hornets. Compost heaps, if they are not buried or sealed, can also attract hornets.

In early spring, the new next generation of queen hornets will begin to appear. If you can catch and kill them, most hornet related problems will be solved. No queen, no offspring, no problems! The aim is to attract the queens by a raw piece of meat before they have found a place to nest. Then with a trap such as the homemade bottle trap, catch and kill the queen. With hornets, the trap will need a slightly different bait such as:

  • Sugar-sweetened water, 1 cup
  • Apple cider vinegar, 1 cup
  • Mild dish soap, a drop
  • Raw meat

When a hornet gets killed, they give off a pheromone that tells other hornets to attack as a nest safety mechanism. So for hornets inside your home, simply squishing them is a very bad idea as you will attract more and even angry hornets. The best way to deal with hornets in your home is to vacuum them up. Also leave them in the vacuum for a couple of days so that if by vacuuming them up they haven’t died, they will die of starvation or dehydration.

Giant Asian hornets are caught with rat glue.

Products are available that can be sprayed from a distance into the entrance of the nest, killing the hornets. Before the killing, protecting your self is very important. Make sure all your skin or as much as possible is covered by some form of clothing. Layers are also a good idea to help prevent a hornet’s sting reaching your skin. The best time to attack a nest is when the sun has gone down and before it rises again as they will all retreat to the nest then.

Any products purchased for killing hornets should be handled with care and any instruction provided should be read and understood for the user’s safety.

If you are unable to deal with a nest your self, there are professionals and companies who will deal with it for you.

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