European Hornet

Actual Size: ½ to 1.4”

Characteristics: Large size; brownish-colored body with soft orange stripes and a pale face.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Typically builds nests in protected areas such as hollowed-out trees, barns, wall voids, and even other abandoned beehives.


  • Most active at night, unlike most other stinging insects.
  • Rarely aggressive toward humans, despite large size and fierce appearance.
  • Brought to the United States from Europe in the mid-1800s.


European Hornets in your area

Though European hornets weren’t brought to North America until the mid-1800s, they are now an extremely common pest in the United States. This large flying insect can now be found in 30 different states, and they often build nests near human activity in spaces such as wall voids and attics. Unlike most other stinging insects, European hornets are most active at night and will hunt in the darkness. These hornets primarily eat nectar and other insects such as aphids and caterpillars.

European Hornet Habitat

European hornets are social insects that typically live in colonies with several hundred individual hornets. Outdoors, these hornets typically build their nests in tall and protected areas like hollowed-out trees. These nests have a grey and papery appearance, and they are typically located 6 feet or higher off the ground. European hornets may also build their nests near human structures, such as in wall voids or attics. Since these insects can become aggressive if they feel threatened, they can be a nuisance for homeowners should they infest.

European Hornet Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Though European hornets are large and have a frightening appearance, they are generally not aggressive and typically leave people alone. However, they may become hostile if they sense danger. Since European hornets can sting multiple times in a row, they can leave behind painful marks – and even trigger dangerous allergic reactions in some people. As temperatures drop and food sources become limited in late summer, these hornets may seek food and shelter indoors. If you spot the signs of a European hornet infestation, it is recommended to call a professional hornet control expert to remove these pests quickly and safely.