Northern Giant Hornet Facts & Information
Protect your home or business from Northern Giant Hornets by learning techniques for identification and control.
Northern Giant Hornet Treatment
How do I get rid of northern giant hornets?
What Orkin Does
If you discover or suspect a hornet infestation, contact an Orkin Pro to safely remove the nest. Nest removal can be dangerous, as stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room every year. It is hazardous to spray insecticides on a hornet’s nest or use gasoline to set fire to it. Northern giant hornets are extremely aggressive and determined to protect their nest.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Understanding Northern Hornets
What do northern giant hornets look like?
Northern giant hornets, Vespa mandarinia, are the world’s largest hornet. Adult workers vary in length from 1 to 1 ½ inches, while queens can reach up to 2 inches. They have a wingspan of about 3 inches. Adults have a large orange head, prominent eyes, orange mandibles, dark brown antennae with orange segments, a dark brown thorax, and a striped abdomen. Females have stingers that are about ¼ inch long, whereas males do not have stingers.
Northern Giant Hornet Name Change
Formerly known as the “Asian giant hornet” or “murder hornet,” in 2022, the Entomological Society of America changed the common name of Vespa mandarinia to the northern giant hornet.
Northern Giant Hornet Life Cycle
Spring: A fertilized northern giant hornet queen emerges after surviving the winter and enters a brief pre-nesting stage. She feeds on sap, develops her ovaries, and looks for a suitable nesting site, which is typically in preexisting underground cavities with a narrow opening, like a rodent burrow.
Summer: Once the queen selects a suitable site, she enters a solitary phase. During this time, she alone is responsible for building a nest, foraging, laying eggs, and caring for the young. When around 40 workers are in the nest, the colony enters a new phase. The queen becomes completely nest-bound, and the workers assume all duties outside of the nest.
Late Summer/Early Fall: When there are many workers, the colony begins producing males and the next year’s queens. To obtain food with a higher protein content, northern giant hornets may attack honey bee hives. The hornets kill all the adult bees and remove the hive’s brood, taking bee larvae and pupae back to their nests. Northern giant hornets may also attack other social bees and wasps at this time.
Fall: Males develop and leave the nest before females. They will perch at the entrance of nests waiting to mate with the new queens, which emerge about one month later.
Winter: After mating, a new queen will spend the colder months overwintering in a sheltered spot usually found in soil, rotting wood, or piles of straw. The cycle begins again the following spring when the new queens emerge from overwintering.
What do northern giant hornets eat?
Northern giant hornets can destroy entire bee hives as they feed on honey bee larvae and take them to their own young to eat. They are a serious threat to honey bees as they can tear up to 40 honey bees in half every minute. They also feed on beetles, wasps, spiders, and other large pests.
Where do northern giant hornets live?
The northern giant hornet’s natural distribution throughout the world includes parts of Asia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, and a small part of eastern Russia.
Where are northern giant hornets found in the US?
These hornets were first reported in the Vancouver Island area of Canada in August 2019 and have since been detected in the northwest corner of Washington.
How to Keep Northern Giant Hornets Away
Northern giant hornet nests must be destroyed whenever located. The Washington State Department of Agriculture is monitoring the areas where the hornets have been sighted and surrounding counties to determine if any hornets are present. Monitoring efforts include traps baited with food or pheromone attractants to capture foraging adults and infrared monitoring to identify potential hornet nest sites.
To keep hornets away, make sure to keep food and drink covered when eating outdoors. Also dispose of garbage properly, including decaying fallen fruit, and dog or other animal feces since these odors can attract northern giant hornets and other pests.