Hornet vs. Wasp

The main difference between hornet and wasp is their size and color, wasp are smaller than hornets, on the other hand, hornets are slower, clumsy, bigger that can be almost two inches in length.

Wasps are almost one-third inch (1cm) to one inch (2 and one-half cm) long. On the other side hornets are larger and very similar to wasps, hornets are black and white in color, whereas wasps are black and yellow in color.

Hornets and wasps belong to a Vespidae family, both wasps and hornets have a more aggressive nature, and they mostly attack by using their stinger if their nests are threatened.

The concept of hornets and wasps is very confusing; in the U.S. the hornets are defined as the bald-faced hornet or the European hornet, and the wasps the defined as the yellow jackets and the paper wasps.

Sometimes people think that sharks, bears, snake  are very dangerous  animals and can cause us damage but if you are an allergic person so even a bee, hornet or wasps can cause you a great damage to your health.

The following comparison chart will help you in describing the difference between hornets and wasps.

Comparison chart

Basis Hornet Wasp
Nests Hornets built their nests up the ground or high up under the leaves of the tree, they prepared the inside of the nest with paper-like material made from chewed up plant and spittle paste. Wasps built their nests on the ground, in the air or in underground burrows, these nests are made from chewed up materials into a structured form which looks like grey rag paper
Stings Few species have stings that can be deadly to humans Wasps can be sting many times with their smooth stingers
Aggressive behavior More aggressive Less aggressive than a hornet
Diet Pray mostly on larvae and other insects Prey on other insects, or likely to scavenge for sweet or fruit
Size and color Hornets are ½  inch to 2 inches in length and usually vary in color from black to brown to slightly reddish Wasps are smaller and have a wide variety of colors, depending on species.
Social or solitary Live in groups (social) Typically social and can be solitary depend on species

What is hornet?

Hornets can be defined as species of wasps which have wider heads, rounded abdomens and a different life cycle, and are most likely to wasps in appearance, as it is very difficult to distinguish between wasps and hornets, especially from a large distance. Some species of hornets can be 5.5 cm in length.

Hornets are very aggressive and if their nests are threatened they can sting and their stings can be fatal and very dangerous to human life. They use stings to kill the pre to defend the nests. They made their nests by chewing wood to make a papery flesh. Every nest has a queen, who lays eggs and is attended by female workers who cannot lay fertile eggs.

Hornets are usually insectivores, as they eat insects. Here are some facts of hornets

  • The biggest hornet specie is the “Asian Giant Hornet” that can lengthen up to 2 inches.
  • Hornets are usually recognized by their black and white striped color body.
  • Hornets are active in both times of the day.
  • Hornets are usually shy creatures but it can attack humans in self-defense and if the person is allergic the sting can be fatal.
  • People in Japan love to eat hornets either in fried or raw form.
  • Hornets sometimes eat tree sap and fruits but mainly they eat insects.
  • Hornets usually build their nest inside the trunk of trees, on the branches, attics, barns, or even under the roofs.
  • The only member of the hornet colony that reproduces is queen that lays a fertilized egg that hatch into young forms of hornet known as larvae or grubs

What is Wasp?

Wasps are among the most diversified array of insects with more than 30,000 species that belong to the order Hymenoptera.

Wasps can be seen in every possible color from black to yellow, metallic blue, green, bright red, and orange.

Wasps are divided into two groups, solitary wasps who lives alone and other are social wasps who live in colonies. Mostly they have a cast system consists of one or more queens, few drones (male) and female workers. The queen begins the colony in the spring season by building a small nest and lay eggs that hatch into workers. Their nest is made with the chewed up strips of bark mixed with the saliva to form a rag paper.

They are better for humans by controlling pest insect population that harms crops. Wasps eat grasshoppers, flies and other bees, can also eat nectar and fruits, even some wasps can eat human foods, which results in a big trouble at picnics. Here are some facts of wasps,

  • The most popular social wasps in the northern region are species of genera, Polistes, Vespa and Vespula
  • Mostly wasps may live less than a year, workers for just a few months. However, Queens live for several years.
  • Wasps live in almost every country of the world except Antarctica.
  • The colony produces new queens and males in the summer season, they fly away to mate and the queens find a place to hide. The cold weather kills the males, workers and the queen.
  • The various species of wasps can be divided into two categories, solitary wasps and social wasps.
  • They can feed the young meat such as insect larvae.

Key Differences between Hornet and Wasp

  1. The main difference between hornet and wasps is their size and color, hornets are larger with black and white rings, on the other side, wasps are smaller in size and have black and yellow rings.
  2. Hornets are social, however wasps can b social or solitary depend in species they belong.
  3. Hornets made their nests mostly outside the trees, shrubs, under eves and decks, on the other side wasps made their nests on the ground or in the air, and solitary wasps don’t make nests.
  4. Hornets are more aggressive than wasps and can sting multiple times, on the other side, wasps are also aggressive depending on the species, wasps can sting many times.
  5. Hornets prey on insects however, wasps have real sweet tooth, they like to prey on juices, fruits, sweets or even meat.

Comparison Video


Hornets and wasps belong to a Vespidae family, wasps have more than 100,000 species and hornets are one of these species. We can distinguish hornets from wasps by their wider head and large abdomen, their life cycle is also different. Hornet sting can be more painful than wasps. Hornets are insectivores whereas wasps are carnivores. Hence there are more than thousands of species of wasps and new types are also being discovered.

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