Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ABC Wednesday: V is for Vespa crabro


Vespa crabro

European Hornet


The European hornet is the largest hornet in North America. Queens like the one in these photos can be 1 1/2 inches long (3.8 centimeters). As the common implies, they are not native to NA. European hornets in North America were first found in New York State in the mid-1800s. Since then the species has spread slowly south and west. As of 2004, the Ozarks marked the boundary of their westward expansion.

Vespa crabro is said to be non-aggressive and prefers forest to suburban and urban environments. For these reason human contact and resulting stings have been minimal over the years. However, European hornets will build their paper nests in attics, porches, sheds and hollow walls of houses located in rural settings -- and they will sting to defend their nest if disturbed. Accidentally blundering into a nest could result in multiple stings since a typical colony might consist of 300-500 workers. A large, mature colony consists of about 1000 workers. The sting is said to be very painful and may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. One study has shown that allergic individuals are at three times greater risk of having a dangerous allergic reaction from a European hornet sting than from a honey bee or yellowjacket sting.



Thanks to Richard Vernier at BugGuide for this ID.



Sources and links:
BugGuide Species Page
University of Arkansas Entomology




An addition to this post relating to the comment on Vespa motor scooters:
According to Wikipedia "Vespa is both Latin and Italian for wasp—derived from both the high-pitched noise of the two-stroke engine, and adopted as a name for the vehicle in reference to its body shape: the thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist, and the steering rod resembled antennae."


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16 comments:

Dina said...

Well then, glad it was you and not me to go in close for that photo.

AphotoAday said...

Well, who would have known that there is a bad-assed hornet named Vespa...
The little guy sort of does look like a little motorscooter???

andrée said...

South and west means not Vermont, thank goodness. I hope everybody looks at your large size photo because the detail and clarity are amazing. (I use bugguide just about every other day in the summer!)

Mental P Mama said...

Very V! I love learning about bugs and birds!

Petunia said...

Very great macro:)
Petunia's ABC

reader Wil said...

Very interesting information. I heard that these hornets are very dangerous! Good photo!

Old Wom Tigley said...

WOW... I can even see this things toes... These are the best close ups of these I've seen... any more like this and I'll be calling them. Marvins Marvelous Macro's... :O)

mrsnesbitt said...

Great post marvin....Houston we have a fuse box! LOL!

Kerri said...

WOW! This is a Great V post Marvin! VERY Educational!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This hornet looks scary. I don't think I have seen this one. I have regular hornets or maybe they are yellow jackets that get on our apples as they decay. I hope to not run into a Vespa.

mon@rch said...

Such a cool Hornet! it was Very Nice!

RainforestRobin said...

What an amazing photo!!! I am so impressed with your photography and knowledge of all these creatures. I love learning things like this and have books on identifying, bugs, plants, tracks, etc. The color on this guy is incredible. You obviously have a very calm countinence and are able to move slowly and calmly close to creatures like this. I am the same way and it often disturbs people I'm with. I have to tell them that unless they can remain calm to move away so that they don't distress whatever I'm photographing. Your love of Nature is astounding and so heartening to see. I think it's just wonderful.

Katney said...

I am not a connosieur (Sp) of wasps, but he looks enough like the one that stung me once that I would not likely get close enough to get a picture such as yours.

nina said...

Vespids and I do not get along.
Their nasty attitude is foreshadowed by their appearance. Nothing soft and cuddly there!

2sweetnsaxy said...

I'm so impressed with all of your photos. I'm a total girl. I don't care to see thse in person but these pictures are awesome!

Jennifer said...

Oh dear... I've been opening a wren nest box at Audubon to show the kids this hornet! Now that I've read some of your facts, I think I better stop doing that!