Differences Between Wasps and Hornets
Simply put, all hornets are wasps, but not all wasps are hornets. The term wasp includes many different types of insects, including yellow jackets, cicada killers, and even some hornets. While hornets are actually a subspecies of wasp, you can distinguish the pests by how they look and behave.
Hornet vs. Wasp Appearance
Most wasps are black and yellow with banded marks along their abdomens. Hornets are usually black and white, and rarely have bright colors on their bodies. While distinct, the two insects do share some similarities when it comes to looks. For example, both typically have smooth, glossy bodies with two sets of wings.
Additionally, you can identify a wasp vs. hornet by its size. Bald-faced hornets and yellow jackets are normally about three-fourths of an inch in length. However, European hornets often measure over an inch long.
Damage and Dangers
Another difference between wasps and hornets is their behavior. Most wasps create paper nests that differ in size and shape based on species. Some build small hives on the sides of houses and businesses. European hornets prefer to build their nests in hollow trees, wall voids, and attics throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.
Take caution if you find a wasp or hornet nest around your home or workplace. If stung, you may experience a sharp pain followed by swelling, itching, and redness. Stings can lead to life-threatening reactions for those who are allergic to the insects.