hornet - what type is it?

Asked April 5, 2020, 5:30 PM EDT

I unearthed this hornet in my garden under a bush in Takoma Park, Maryland. Maybe it is a European hornet. It was huge - possibly it was hibernating and my digging disturbed it. Now, I want to get rid of this and any others in my garden. Thanks for any help.

Montgomery County Maryland

6 Responses

Yes, that's a European hornet. Because it is so large and it is so early in the season, we think this is an overwintering queen. These are not native insects and not ones you want living nearby. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/european-hornets

You'll want to kill it. First, put it into your freezer to slow it down, so you don't get stung. Then smash it.

Ellen

Yes, that's a European hornet. Because it is so large and it is so early in the season, we think this is an overwintering queen. These are not native insects and not ones you want living nearby. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/european-hornets

You'll want to kill it. First, put it into your freezer to slow it down, so you don't get stung. Then smash it.

Ellen

Thank you so much for your quick response. When I unearthed this, I was sitting on the ground digging up a bush. I grabbed this little bucket and put it over the hornet. But I was freaked out! I knocked over the bucket with my rake and ran for the house. So I don't have it. It flew away. Do you think there are others? a nest in the ground? I haven't been in my back yard since. I put out one of those "traps" made from a water bottle with sugar water in the bottom but it hasn't flown into the trap. I called an exterminator who will come look on Wednesday. Any thoughts on what I should do? Thanks so much!

That's alright; they are common in our area and it probably flew off to explore for a future nest site. You shouldn't need to do anything at this point, though you can see if any more appear in the area (flying, not emerging from the ground) this spring. They overwinter by themselves, though if an ideal overwintering site is found, multiple queens could have chosen it simultaneously. With the warming soil they will be emerging soon - if they haven't already - and dispersing to explore. They would not intentionally nest near each other as this would create too much competition for resources between colonies.

Although an exterminator visit likely won't be necessary at this stage, they could evaluate the building exterior for sites known to be tempting to exploring queens. If found, they could make recommendations for adjustments (such as sealing cracks or fixing broken gaps in vents) to make your home less inviting to nest-builders. They could also scout for old nests, but such nests would not be re-used this year; they would simply be an indicator that prior queens have found amenable conditions for nesting.
https://extension.psu.edu/european-hornet

Miri

Again - thank you so much!
cb