The hornet is a bigger, meaner version of a wasp. Worker hornets serve the colony by protecting their queen. Trespassers beware! The hornet will attack in swarms, buzzing loudly and charging at intruders, then inflicting victims with agonizing stings. Luckily, hornets only attack when their nest is disturbed or when they’re chasing prey.
Sting Operation: On the hornet’s rear, the sharp stinger is made of two blades that cut deeply into victims. Like a syringe, it injects the hornet’s venom, paralyzing prey.
Scissor-Mouth: Slicing jaws go to work after a victim is paralyzed. Hornets chop prey to pieces and chew the pieces into mush.
Long Live the Queen!
A worker hornet’s life consists of hunting and feeding the colony’s larvae (young) by day, and cleaning the nest at night. The work is seasonal. Males and workers, which are mostly female, live for less than a year. They freeze or starve to death in the winter. The queen, however, hibernates through the cold season and begins a new nest in spring. A queen’s lifespan is more than 5 years.
Aerial Attack: Not only can hornets startle sitting prey, but they can snatch flying insects right out of the air and paralyze them before the victims hit the ground.
Do Not Disturb: When the nest is threatened, hornets on the outside send an immediate alarm by releasing certain chemicals that alert the entire colony. Within seconds, an angry swarm emerges and attacks the enemy.
Busier than Bees
- In a lightning attack, a hornet stings and injects its venom into a horsefly before the paralyzed victim even has time to react.
- The hornet systematically bites off the horsefly’s head, legs, and wings, then grinds the rest of the body up with its slicing jaws.
- Flying back to the nest, the hornet feeds the chewed-up remains to the larvae, then sets off again to find more food for the hungry hive.