Heard curious nighttime or predawn buzzing vibrating in bushes and from underneath fruit trees? There may be the presence of a European hornet nest nearby. These winged-beings are active overnight.
“The wasps are predatory most of the year feeding on insects, but in the fall will switch over to carbohydrates often feeding on fallen fruit where they are more likely to come into contact with humans,” according to the WVU Greenbrier County Extension Service. “They can be nocturnal and are sometimes found buzzing around porch lights at night. Nests are often made in protected areas such as hollowed-out logs or the outside walls of buildings. European hornet’s have been the identified pest in several recent calls and visits here at the Greenbrier County Extension Office.”
Although identified as a pest by the Extension Service, The old Farmer’s Almanac reports that “Most bees, wasps, and hornets are beneficial. Both wasps and hornets are real workhorses for pest management in the garden and farm, feeding on the ‘bad’ insects that destroy crops. In fact, if you were able to see many of their nests, they’re stocked with paralyzed adult grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, and sawflies. Also, if you look carefully in the garden, wasps are very helpful pollinators, too! They are usually solitary and non-aggressive, busily hovering and moving from flower to flower.”
However, when a nest is built too close to a home or frequented building, Penn State Extension offers ways to control the hornet population at extension.psu.edu/european-hornet.
“The European hornet was first detected in the United States in the 1840s and since then has become well established in the Eastern United States. The workers can be as big as an inch while the queens can grow up to 1.3 inches in length,” WVU Greenbrier County Extension Service reports.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains the difference between some common winged things equipped with stingers, “All hornets are wasps, but not all wasps are hornets. In the U.S., we have no native hornets. Our main hornet is the European hornet which was introduced into New York in 1840. It looks like a large yellowjacket – about ¾ to 1½ inches long – and nests in the ground or in hollow trees.”
To learn more about the European hornet visit Penn State Extension Service at extension.psu.edu/european-hornet or call WVU Greenbrier County Extension Service at 304-647-7408.
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