What Do Hornets Eat?

hornet food

Hornets are beneficial to ecosystems because they’re one of mother nature's pest controllers. However, humans fear them because of their powerful and life-threatening sting. This is why homeowners are concerned about these pests lurking around their homes or gardens. Knowing what this stinging insect likes to eat is a great way to prevent running into one in the first place.

What do hornets eat? What exactly do these creepy invaders crave? They’re known to sustain themselves with aphids, flies, and other bugs. There's a whole lot more. Check out this list for more information on a hornet's diet.

What Do Hornets Eat?

The diet of an adult hornet essentially consists of fruit juices, sap, and other sweet liquids such as soda. Similar to other insects within the Vespidae family, their offspring feed on protein that the workers forage in the form of insects like grasshoppers, large flies, crickets, caterpillars, and even the workers of other social wasp and hornet species. In return, the larvae release a sweet syrup which the adult wasp laps up.

Moreover, these pests also love to prey on bees. They’re not just a good source of protein for future hornet queens, but they also supply a sweet product that hornets love: honey. Since they’re around 5 times the proportions of a European honey bee, it will only take a small number of giant hornets to get rid of an entire colony of honey bees. Their size and power mean that one giant hornet can kill roughly 40 bees a minute.

The main difference that the hornet diet doesn't include is the scavenging behavior to the level that a yellow jacket might demonstrate. 

Where Do Hornets Live?

There are many hornet species in the United States. One of the most popular is the baldfaced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) or white faced hornet, although it’s actually more closely related to yellowjackets. The European hornet is said to be the only actual true hornet located in North America. Another latest species to invade the West is the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), also known as the murder hornet. This species is native to Asia, particularly the Eastern part of the continent. Generally, all these hornets are attracted to urban settings and other populated places.

Many species of aerial and ground-nesting hornets create nests either on or in artificial structures. Nests are always found inside wall voids, attics, window frames, or hanging from eaves. In nature and gardens, the pests will put up colonies in bushes, under bark, in hollow trees, and rock piles. 

You can differentiate a hornet and another stinging wasp from their nesting habits. The cicada killer, often confused as yellowjacket and hornet, may nest in several nests in the same area (aggregations), but not live together socially like other social insects, including the bumble bee, carpenter bee, other native bees, and common wasp species like the paper wasp and Asian giant wasp. The cicada killers are solitary wasps that aren’t likely to sting unless directly handled. The majority of the spotted wasps are males that patrol the nesting area. They may circle around people or even hover in front of faces, but they can’t sting because they’re males. Females don’t defend their burrows and will sting only if mishandled.

Life Cycle of a Hornet

Each fall, hornet colonies produce males and females that mate before winter starts. The fertilized females are the only ones in the colony that overwinter in protected areas. When the females arise in the spring, they find fitting sites for new colonies and instantly assume the position of queen. The queen creates a nest made up of a dozen cells, and she lays and tends to the first batch of eggs. Until the first brood of workers is prepared and ready to protect and expand the nest and care for the young, the queen handles all responsibilities by herself. Some hornet species create nests that normally end up having an average of 100 to 400 individuals. The whole cycle repeats itself every year.

How to Prevent a Hornet Infestation

Hornets can travel far distances and use flower nectar and other insect pests as food sources, which means that trying to stop them from infesting is challenging. Before the fertilized females emerge after winter each year, homeowners should check for possible entry points around the house. Sealing cracks using caulk and replacing broken screens are two of the best ways to prevent a hornet infestation from occurring indoors. 

Moreover, it's important to maintain cleanliness at home. Hornets tend to prey on insects, and if these pests are present in your home, chances are, hornet activity will increase. Always make sure to put food waste in tightly sealed garbage cans and wipe off any spillage. Also, don't leave fizzy drinks hanging around as well as fallen fruits as these attract flying insects and hornets.

You may also use insecticide to control hornets or opt for non-toxic methods like vinegar solution, soap and water solution, or a blend of essential oils in a spray. To use essential oils as hornet repellent:

  1. Mix a few drops of lemongrass, geranium, and clove essential oils.
  2. Pour this essential oil blend into a spray bottle along with a few tablespoons of dish soap and water.
  3. Spray this solution on any bald faced hornet nest or wasp nest, and be sure to check on porch roofs, eaves, and any other corners. You can also apply this mixture in areas where you've spotted nests before.

Just be sure to approach the nests carefully and calmly to avoid hornet stings and wasp stings.

If you don't want to take the risk, pest control professionals can treat and remove nests safely. They’re highly trained to stop a hornet problem or any infestation by correctly identifying the pest problem. 

Keeping the Hornets Away Permanently

pest control worker and client

Knowing what hornets eat will help you control the insects that they feed on. However, removing all these pests is a complicated and, not to mention, dangerous job. At Pinnacle Pest Control, we provide a huge range of pest control services — whether you need to get rid of a new insect infestation or require a preventative service.

We have the key to your pest control needs, and we take pride in using the IPM (integrated pest management) concept, which incorporates all aspects of pest prevention, including exclusion, inspection, mechanical, and chemical control techniques. These are all while making use of minimal amounts of environmentally sensitive products. Contact Pinnacle Pest Control today to request a free quote. A pest-free home is only one call away.

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