Hornets have the power to evoke fear among homeowners more than other pesky pests. They’re a nuisance when they’re seen lurking around, and they’re a major problem when they set up nests in your home. These invasive species are notorious for being aggressive and delivering painful stings to anyone who may disturb them or intrude on their nest.
Where do hornets nest? Where do they hide and breed? Unlike other stinging insects, hornets like making their nests in secure locations: Tucked into a crevice of a building, up high in a tree cavity, or by the eaves of a home or shed. Here's a complete guide on how to locate the nests of these menacing creatures.
Nesting habits vary per hornet species, but most of them are drawn toward similar areas. You’ll mostly see their nests in attics and wall voids. These stinging insects also create nests in places like tree hollows and roof eaves. Once they discover their new home, they make their nest from wood pulp that hangs from tree limbs. Meanwhile, one species, called the ground hornets, likes to nest in open ranges with sandy soil, which they need for burrowing nests.
A hornet's nest is unique. A wasp nest is thin, but the hornets' nest is created like an inverted teardrop. It has a small circular opening at the base where the hornets can come in and out. Queen hornets ordinarily go out when they forage for food. Usually, they strike honeybees and their hives, destroying them in mere hours and killing bees in what the scientist calls their "slaughter phase." They then invade the hive, feeding their offspring with the honey bees' eggs and larvae.
It has been reported that up to a thousand hornets share the space in a big nest, so it's ideal for finding and removing nests when they're small. If you can't, they can grow their population in your home and it will be more challenging to exterminate these species, which will fiercely defend their nest if they sense that they’re being threatened. Their sting can be fatal to people who are allergic to their venom.
One of the most alarming species is the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), also called the murder hornet. Bearing the title as the world's largest hornet, they're known for their toxic sting and ability to wipe out entire honey bee hives in a matter of hours.
This species was spotted for the first time in Blaine, Washington in the late fall of 2019. This is the first-ever sighting in the United States. Canada had also discovered murder hornets in two locations in British Columbia during the same year.
Washington and Canada in 2020 had new confirmed sightings of Asian giant hornets. In late October of the same year, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) administered the first-ever eradication of an Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S. The first confirmed sighting in 2021 was reported from Snohomish County. It appeared to be irrelative to the 2019 and 2020 Asian giant hornet findings in the United States and Canada and Whatcom County, along the Canadian border.
WSDA declared that if it becomes established, the invasive Asian giant hornet will negatively impact the economy, environment, and public health. It then encouraged those who suspect an Asian giant hornet sighting to report it immediately. If the sighting location that they suspected isn’t in Washington, WSDA told residents to reach out to their state or province's agriculture department to report the pest.
Many residents from North Carolina said they suspect Asian giant hornet sightings. However, many local wasp and hornet species may be confused with the Asian giant hornet. The state's entomologist confirmed that the sightings aren’t Asian giant hornets.
Charlotte, the main city in North Carolina, has a fascinating history with hornets. The town was named after the wife of England's King George III. General Cornwallis in 1780 led the British army into Charlotte, but they didn't stay long because of the aggressive local patriots. So the lore says that the soldier general dubbed Charlotte a "Hornet's Nest of Rebellion." The nest is seen today on the sides of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police cars.
In recent times, the term “hornet's nest” is often mentioned in books and movies. A 2013 film, The Hornet's Nest, tells the story of the longest war in U.S. history and the elite group of soldiers sent on a dangerous mission in Afghanistan. A school in Massachusetts, meanwhile, dubbed its sports team as the North Reading Hornets.
Getting rid of outside food sources will prevent any flying insect from coming close. During late summer, pests like yellow jackets and hornets become more attracted to sugary foods to prepare for winter. To prevent them, including the Asian giant hornet, from dwelling in your home, make sure garbage cans are sealed and that food isn’t left unattended for an extended amount of time. Uneaten or leftover pet food should be disposed of properly. Birdseed and hummingbird nectar should also be kept away. Flowers and fruit trees attract hornets, so make sure to keep these at a distance from homes.
Learn More: What Do Hornets Eat?
Moreover, inspect your property and look for any areas that may need repairing. Broken panels, spaces in soffits, and other crevices are great locations for the hornets nest. Ensure all windows, doors, and screens are working so that unwanted creatures don’t fly in. You must also do a regular yard check where you inspect any rodent holes or potential burrows for hornets and bees to live in. If they’re unoccupied, fill the spaces with dirt or debris.
Another long-term preventative method is to grow plants such as mint, citronella, eucalyptus, and wormwood. These have scents that naturally repel hornets. You may also use a fake hornets' nest to deter these pests. Since they’re solitary wasps and are territorial, they won’t build nests in areas where other hornets have nests. Hornet traps also work, but you have to be careful when disposing of them. When the hornets get caught in the trap, seal it properly in a bag or tape over the top and get rid of it in an outdoor trash container. You could also place it in the freezer overnight. The cold will kill the hornets in an instant.
No matter how capable you think you are in dealing with pests, avoid killing a hornet anywhere near its nest, as the distress pheromones it releases have a good chance of provoking an attack. You should also discard anything that touches the pheromones from the area instantly, like your clothes. Hornets can misrepresent the scent from certain perfumes and other volatile chemicals, which may wrongly begin an attack.
So when spending time outdoors, try to prevent wearing strong fragrances and sweet scents and instead opt for unscented hygienic products. If they smell something sweet, they might linger near you. These pests use their senses of smell to detect flowers, which tricks them into thinking that you might be one. Remember to also wear boots to protect your feet from rogue hornets.
Hornets are extremely dangerous. They’ll aggressively protect their nests and can sting multiple times, which in some cases cause fatal allergic reactions. Don't attempt to kill an individual or remove a nest on your own. Instead, call Pinnacle Pest Control. We can exterminate any pesky pest in your home. We’ll implement a comprehensive pest control strategy, removal, and long-term prevention if you need continuous service. Request your free quote now.