What Do Hornets Eat?

Image of a Hornet

Wasp vs. Hornet Diet

There is only one species of hornet in North America, the European hornet. People often confuse several species of wasps, such as yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets, with true hornets. Diet is one way to discern between these stinging insects.

What Do Hornets Eat in Yards?

The European hornet diet consists of crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, wasps, and similar pests in backyards. Most wasps feed on live prey as well. The main difference is that the hornet diet doesn’t include scavenging behavior to the level that a yellow jacket might display.

On occasion, hornets eat fallen fruit or strip the bark from trees to drink sap, but they bother picnics and human food less often than other pests. Buzzing, stinging insects hovering over sugary drinks or meat are more likely to be yellow jackets than hornets.

Other Behaviors

Although wood is not part of the wasp or hornet diet, both pests use finely chewed wood cellulose and saliva to create their nests. In general, hornets build nests aboveground and wasps live underground, though there are numerous exceptions to this generality. Nests are difficult to control since either hornets or wasps can become hostile if disturbed.

Controlling Hornets

Knowing what hornets eat is useful for control. Treating for prey insects can make yards less attractive to these stinging pests, though it may be tough to remove all food sources in the hornet diet. Homeowners who discover a hornet or wasp nest can contact Orkin for safe and efficient removal.