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Don't Get Stung

Hornets present a stinging danger in Virginia. Protect your family and pets!

a giant hornet flying near a leaf

Hornets are aggressive, dangerous, and found all over Virginia. They are most aggressive in the summer months and early fall. Learn how to identify them and protect your family and pets from these scary insects.


What Do Hornets Look Like?

The two main types of hornets in Virginia are the bald-face hornet and the European Hornet.

Bald-face hornets are mostly black in the body and white in the face, with a few white pieces on their body. Their wings are dark brown but translucent. They look similar yellow jackets, except for their coloration, because they are technically more closely related to yellowjackets and wasps than other hornets. They get their "hornet" name because of their size and aggression. They are usually between 1/2 and 3/4 inches long.

European Hornets look more like the picture above. They are yellow with brown or orange stripes. These hornets are smooth, not hairy like honeybees. They are very large, usually between one to one and half inches long.

How Dangerous Are Hornets?

Colonies can be huge, up to 500 hundred hornets. While they will not be as aggressive while foraging away from their nest, they are still a stinging danger at any encounter. Hornets will attack people ferociously if they feel you are threatening their nest (a problem when trying to remove them from your premises). They will also become very hostile if they are attacking a bee's nest and you get near them.

Hornet stings can be fatal, even without an allergy. If stung enough times, like an attack by a swarm while trying to remove a nest or colony, humans will not be able to withstand the venom. Even one sting can cause pain, itching, swelling, inflammation and even bleeding near the sting site. These symptoms can last for days, depending on the severity.

Animals are also in danger, with some stings bringing on life-threatening anaphylaxis. At the least, your pet will experience unpleasant effects, such as pain, irritation and itchiness.

It's important to note that hornets can recognize and remember human faces. If you've antagonized a wasp, it will attack you the next time it sees you. Keep that in mind when dealing with these dangerous creatures.

How Do You Protect Yourself From Hornets?

Professional pest control services are the safest way to protect yourself from all stinging insects. Regularly maintaining a pest control barrier around your home and yard will deter hornets from setting up camp in the first place. It should keep them moving along their foraging path without wanting to move in with you. If you do end up with a nest, professionals who are trained to deal with the elimination of a hornet infestation will save you the risk of self-removal or living with these dangerous creatures.

As with all other pest control, it's helpful to eliminate any standing water on your property, don't leave out accessible food or trash, and seal your home from any cracks or gaps that could be enticing for nest building. Hornets are especially attracted to sugar, so make sure that any sugary spills are cleaned up. It's also possible that a spray of vinegar and peppermint oil may be of use in deterring hornets from becoming overly interested in your fruit trees or other blossoming plants.

We'd love to help you protect your family. Call us today!

Learn more about insects in Virginia in our Pest Library


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