Difference: Hornets vs Wasps

When many people refer to having hornets in their backyard or a big hornet’s nest in a tree near their house, most of the time they are referring to wasps. While these species may be very similar, they are different in nature, especially their personality and their behavior. This following article will outline the main differences between hornets and wasps so you can easily identify each species.

Before we start, let’s make it clear that a hornet is in fact a wasp. A wasp is a type of insect and includes many sub-species. Therefore a hornet is one of these sub-species. This means that all hornets are wasps but not all wasps you see are hornets. Get it? If not, we will explain some more.

Is a hornet a wasp?

Out of all the types of wasps that are native to North America, hornets are not one of them. They are an invasive species and they don’t belong in North America. There are a few things you want to look at to identify the difference between these two insects. First off, you can look at their bodies. Hornets are a lot thinner than wasps, especially between their upper and lower bodies. Also, their upper bodies are more rounded.
hornets vs wasps
As for coloring, hornets can be white and black, yellow and black or orange and black, while wasps tend to be only yellow and black. Their heads are also bigger than other wasps. Both these species also have two pairs of wings that they rest at the back of their body.

You can also tell if you are dealing with a wasp problem or a hornet problem by looking at the nest they build. If you see the insects coming from a nest underground, it is definitely a wasp and not a hornet. Both these insects also make their nest up in trees so it is a little harder to tell. Wasps make it out of paper and has a distinct round shape while a hornet’s nest will be shaped more like a football or like an upside down teardrop.

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