Wasps vs. Hornets: How to Tell the Difference Between These Stinging Insects

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on January 13, 2023 · 3 mins read

If you’ve ever been stung by a wasp or hornet while enjoying your backyard, you know how painful and unpleasant it can be. However, not all stinging insects are created equal, and it’s important to know how to distinguish between wasps and hornets so you can take appropriate action.

DIY Wasp removal recommendations

For non aggressive wasps I've had great luck spraying the nests with this Spectracide wasp remover in the evening. For more aggressive wasps I also use this rediculous looking upper torso Beekeeping suit. It seems silly, but trust me, it's amazing.

What Are Wasps?

Wasps are a type of insect that belong to the Hymenoptera order, which also includes bees and ants. They have slender bodies with narrow waists, and their wings fold flat over their backs when at rest. Wasps come in many different varieties, including paper wasps, yellowjackets, and mud daubers.

Paper wasps are brown or black with yellow markings and build nests out of paper-like material. Yellowjackets are black and yellow and commonly build nests in the ground or in trees. Mud daubers are long and slender with metallic blue or black bodies and build nests out of mud.

What Are Hornets?

Hornets are another type of stinging insect that belongs to the same Hymenoptera order as wasps. They are typically larger than wasps and have wider waists. Hornets are usually black and white or brown and orange, and they build large paper nests that can house hundreds of hornets.

How to Tell the Difference Between Wasps and Hornets

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between wasps and hornets is by their appearance. Wasps are generally smaller and more slender than hornets, and they have longer, more slender legs as well. Hornets are larger and have more rounded abdomens.

Another way to tell the difference between the two is by their behavior. Wasps are generally more aggressive than hornets and are more likely to sting unprovoked. Hornets, on the other hand, are more docile and will only sting if their nest is disturbed.

What to Do If You Encounter Wasps or Hornets

If you encounter wasps or hornets in your backyard, it’s important to remain calm and avoid provoking them. Move slowly and quietly away from the area, and do not swat at them or try to attack their nest. If you are stung, remove the stinger and wash the affected area with soap and water. Applying ice or a cold compress can help reduce swelling and pain.

If you have a wasp or hornet infestation in your yard, it’s best to call a professional pest control service to safely remove the nest. Trying to remove the nest yourself can be dangerous and may result in multiple stings.

In conclusion, knowing the difference between wasps and hornets can help you stay safe in your backyard. Remember to identify the insect correctly, move slowly and calmly away from the area, and seek professional help if you have an infestation. With these tips, you can enjoy your outdoor space without fear of stinging insects.