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Asian Giant HornetVespa mandarinia
Asian Giant Hornet Identification
Light orange head with orange and brown/black striped body
1 1/2 – 2” (35-50 mm)
Native to East and South Asia, but recently sighted in the Pacific Northwestern U.S.
Asian Giant Hornet Size
The largest hornet species in the world, Asian giant hornets are usually between 1 ½ to 2 inches in length. Queens can exceed 2 inches in length while workers are typically between 1.4 and 1.6 inches. They have a wingspan around 3 inches and a stinger measuring about a ¼ inch long. These hornets have large orange-yellow heads with prominent eyes, orange and black stripes extending down their bodies, as well as distinct sharp mandibles. These hornets are not confirmed to be established in the U.S. and people can mistake bald-faced hornets or European hornets for them.
Asian Giant Hornet Nest
Asian giant hornets typically live underground in subterranean nests, making colonies difficult to locate. Usually, the hornets will create nests by digging into the ground, occupying pre-existing tunnels dug by other animals such as rodents, or seeking out spaces near rotted tree roots.
Asian Giant Hornet Prevention
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Asian Giant Hornet Sting
The stinger of an Asian giant hornet is typically about a ¼ inch (6 mm) in length, longer and more dangerous than that of most other stinging insects. In fact, their stingers are long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit. Asian giant hornet stings are painful and contain neurotoxins. The sting from an Asian giant hornet can be more severe to humans compared to a honey bee because they can inject up to 28 times more venom in a single sting. However, unless someone is highly allergic to stinging insects or sensitive, it would take many stings from Asian giant hornets during one event for the situation to become life threatening and is an incredibly rare occurrence. It is estimated that only about one out of one million people per year worldwide die purely from an overload of venom of stinging insects without any other underlying sensitivity or allergic reactions. However, other stinging insect species already established in the U.S. send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year.
Asian Giant Hornet Education
The life cycle of Asian giant hornets typically begins in spring when the queen emerges from hibernation and searches for a location to build her nest. Colonies live in subterranean nests, meaning they are located underground. Asian giant hornets are social pests, living in nests comprised of one queen and many workers, which typically fly about 1 mile, but can fly up to about 5 miles from their hive to find food. Asian giant hornets are efficient predators, hunting medium- to large-sized insects such as other hornet species, large beetles and mantises. However, these pests are especially known for feeding on honey bees.
Asian giant hornets typically attack honey bee hives from late summer to early fall. Upon finding a hive, the hornets will use their large mandibles to decapitate the bees. A single Asian giant hornet can kill as many as 40 honey bees per minute and just a small group of hornets can destroy an entire colony’s population of workers within 90 minutes. These hornets are much larger than honey bees and are armored, rendering honey bee stings virtually harmless. Once they have killed the honey bees, Asian giant hornets will occupy the nest and feed on the colony’s pupae and larvae, also feeding it to their own young. If Asian giant hornets become established in the U.S. and spread, they may significantly impact local honey bee populations.
Asian giant hornets typically do not attack humans unprompted, primarily stinging only when they feel their nest is being threatened. This species can inflict a painful sting containing neurotoxins, which can be fatal to people if large numbers of stings are received, especially if they are allergic. When threatened, these hornets will attack their target in large groups, potentially subjecting a victim to a high number of stings. Asian giant hornet stings can be extremely painful and can result in organ failure when a victim suffers many stings at once.