Known for their large size and painful stings, hornets can evoke fear and anxiety. But most species of these social wasps, including European hornets like this one, are not aggressive unless their nests are threatened. Native to Europe and Asia and also found in eastern North America, European hornets construct their paper-like nests in hollows high in buildings or treetops.

A protected species in Germany, they face threats, including other hornets: in recent decades, some hornet species have arrived in new places and have become invasive, preying on honeybees and sometimes disrupting farmers’ ability to pollinate crops. Today, researchers are studying whether a newly arrived invasive species in Europe may also disrupt these hornets’ ability to find insect food. Climate change may be affecting European hornets too: a survey in England and Scotland found that over the past 50 years the wasps have moved northward, potentially in response to warming conditions.

European hornet
Vespa crabro
Queen is 1–1.4 inches (2.5–3.5 cm)
Protected (germany) or not evaluated (iucn)
Ecological Role
Predator, pollinator
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00238266
Connecticut, U.S.