- EUROPEAN HORNET BIOLOGY
- EUROPEAN HORNET PROBLEMS
- EUROPEAN HORNET CONTROL
- EUROPEAN HORNET BAIT
- EUROPEAN HORNET GLUE TRAPS
- EUROPEAN HORNET LIGHT TRAPS
- EUROPEAN HORNET SPRAY
- EUROPEAN HORNET NESTS
- EUROPEAN HORNET CONTROL IN THE HOME
- EUROPEAN HORNET TREATMENTS WITH PROTECTIVE SUITS
- EUROPEAN HORNET DUST
- CONTACT US
European Hornets are one of the only “real” hornets we have in the United States. They are large, intimidating and can sting. When nests are located close to your home the chance of conflict is heightened; when nests are located in the home the chance of conflict is inevitable. This article will detail some basic biology of this insect and then offer methods on how you can control local infestations.
EUROPEAN HORNET BIOLOGY
European Hornets, like other European Species of insects, made their way over to North America on trade ships and other vessels. Once in the America’s most of these insects found a world where they could easily thrive. European Hornets were first noted in the early 1800′s, in the northeastern region of the United States. Now they can be found in most every state east of the Mississippi and several states further west as well.
European hornets look exactly like Cicada Killers though they are more closely related to Yellow Jackets. European hornets are large – commonly found 1.5 to 2.0 inches long – and can fly quickly. It is hard to tell them apart from cicada killers and only a trained eye can do so easily. However, this is where the similarities end. Unlike cicada killers which are solitary and prey mostly on cicada’s, European Hornets will prey on many types of insects, both alive and dead, and are attracted to several sweet items as well.
European hornets will readily eat fruit and honeydew. This characteristic is why they are more like yellow jackets; furthermore, their nests are generally large and contain hundreds if not thousands of occupants just like yellow jackets. Nests start in the spring when females lay eggs which hatch in a few weeks. This first generation goes to work immediately building a nest as the queen does nothing but lay eggs. By late July and August the nest will be built and most attention at that time will be spent accumulating food.
Nests can be located anywhere. Such locations include tree nooks and hollows, under the siding of houses and in attics or crawl spaces. They typically like to find a space which will provide protection from the sun and rain. This space should be able to fit a football to medicine ball sized paper nest. Though the nest is constructed of this material which looks much like a paper wasp or bald faced hornet nest, European Hornets don’t like to have any of it exposed. They prefer the body of the nest to be hidden inside the void or cavity where they chose to construct it.
European Hornets will travel great distances for food. As the nest grows through the summer, so to do the occupants. Once eggs hatch worker and scout hornets will forage for insect prey, carrion and sweet food like honeydew. Unlike most predatory wasps which are solitary, European Hornets will hunt in groups. They may identify a target insect they want which is bountiful and focus on it for a day or two harvesting as much of it as they can get. Prey is brought back to the nest and either consumed or stored for developing young. To satisfy the need for sweet nutrients, they may target well ripened fruit or honeydew. Unlike yellow jackets or ants which can harvest honeydew from plants, European Hornets require big quantities and will go to great lengths when finding a good supply. Like yellow jackets, they can “chew” through wood quite easily and will use this ability to strip bark from trees in an effort to harvest sap. This is called “girdling” and can kill targeted trees or shrubs.
EUROPEAN HORNET PROBLEMS
European hornets become a problem around the home when their presence is noticed. If you are noticing them on your property, there is either a nest close by or they are coming to feed on something you have which they want. The next section of this article will explain what to expect given either of these two conditions and then offer control methods if you decide you don’t want them around
EUROPEAN HORNET CONTROL
European hornets can be a nuisance around the home even if nests are located far off your property. There are several behaviors which homeowners will note that are the problem. First, when the hornets are found “girdling” favorite trees or bushes. This behavior looks innocent enough but can lead to tree or shrub death. Since the sap seems to be sweeter in trees or bushes which produce lovely flowers, expect such plants to be a prime target. Lilac and rose bushes are favorites and once they are tapped expect more hornets to focus in on the available sap. This can lead to plant damage – especially during the warm season – if the plant is already under stress. The cuts in bark or stems will cause the plant to “bleed” sap which the hornets will readily harvest. It is not uncommon to see several hornets landing at one time to feed.
EUROPEAN HORNET BAIT
If you have this happening and want to stop it, the use of a product we sell for Carpenter Ants seems to work well. This is a bait which uses honeydew as the attractant. HONEYDEW GEL can be applied directly on the tree or shrub where you see the girdle marks. Simply apply small amounts in the grooves. It doesn’t take much; they will suck it up and bring it back to the nest. It takes a few days for the product to work it’s way into the nest. Once it does, there are two things that will happen. If enough was consumed, it will kill the nest. If not, several of the hornets will get sick or die which will alert the nest. It will then forgo or ignore your tree altogether as a bait shyness will be created. Regardless, they will find another food supply and leave your plant alone.
Honeydew Ant Gel: http://www.bugspraycart.com/bait/gel/maxforce-carpenter-ant-gel-1-oz
EUROPEAN HORNET GLUE TRAPS
The second behavior commonly noted around the home is when you find the hornets flying around lights at night. This is most common at lights which are adjacent to doors but can occur by spot lights, lamp posts or deck lights. Low voltage lighting is either too low to the ground or not bright enough so is generally ignored. European hornets are night time flyers and feeders and the light represents daylight to them. Knowing that it is easier to forage for food with light present, they will try to fly “into” the light expecting to get somewhere that they will be able to see better. There are four things that can be done for this. First, you can tack large GLUEBOARDS on the siding of the home where they are active. Place 4 around the light so that the glue will “catch” these annoying and frightening night time flyers. Expect to have a few nights where they are active and get caught; once you have removed the ones flying in these patterns you won’t have many more around.
Paper Glue Traps: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/glue/rat-glue-board-paper-8-x-12
EUROPEAN HORNET LIGHT TRAPS
Since most nests have scouts designated to certain areas, removing the ones in the area around your light will remove them altogether. In some cases they may return in a few weeks at which time you will have to set some more boards out. The second approach is the use of a special type insect killing light. Most lighted bug killers rely on electricity to “electrocute” moths and other night time flying pests. However, these models aren’t strong enough to kill European Hornets. If you want to use a light trap to stop them from flying around your home, you’ll need one of the models which works with a mechanical action. The 12 VOLT LIGHT TRAP can do this job effectively. It’s powered with any 12 volt deep cycle marine type battery (the kind you would use for trolling motors on fishing boats). These lights feature a spinning “fan” of wire that will cut up any pest which is attracted to the light. To use this trap effectively, you’ll need to turn off all the outside lights where you have seen the most activity. Hang the 12 Volt Light Trap up at least 6 feet high, power it on and let it go to work. It’s best to let it run for 1-2 weeks at night during which time it will be killing off all the scout European Hornets in the area. Over the course of the summer you may need to hook it back up and turn it on periodically as new scouts forage in area. Of course, you may opt to set the trap out in an area away from the home and just let it run every night. By keeping it active you’ll be keeping the local Hornet population in check and stop them from finding your home.
12 Volt Light Trap: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/electric/flying-insect-trap-12-v
EUROPEAN HORNET SPRAY
The third approach you can try is to spray or paint a concentrate we sell which is very active on wasps. CYPERMETHRIN can be be applied on and around the light fixture. It is best to make the mixture stronger than normal which enables it to work faster as well as repel them better. Expect to retreat every week until they move away altogether. The goal here is to put in place a residual active (the Cypermethrin) so that any which come foraging around will in turn either pick up some of the active and die or sense it’s presence and know to stay away. Cypermethrin is highly repellent to wasps and hornets and they seem quite capable of detecting it’s presence. And in most cases, once they detect it, they tend to stay away. For this reason, Cypermethrin has proven effective in areas where swarming hornets are unwanted.
Another treatment to consider for these areas is with a concentrate known as OPTIGARD. This is a material which doesn’t kill the target pests on contact. Instead, Optigard is transferred to the target pest and then “shared” with other members of their colony in the days following it’s contact with the treated surface. After 3-4 days of cross contaminating the members of the colony, the Optigard will eventually kick in and take effect. And once it kicks in, the impact will be dramatic. Basically, Optigard works differently compared to traditional sprays like the Cypermethrin. Instead of working acutely, on contact, Optigard instead works more like a drug that eventually “overdoses” the target pest. And once they overdose, they’re bodies shut down which in turn lead to their demise.
For this reason Optigard is a good product choice when dealing with nesting pests in cases where they’re nest sight is unknown. These would be pests like ants, termites, bees and wasps. So if you have European Hornets flying around a specific light on a deck or tearing up a plant or tree in the yard, just treating the surfaces where they’re active with some Optigard will nod doubt knock them out in 4-7 days.
Another product that works much the same way is PHANTOM AEROSOL. Its best suited for small areas where you see activity and it can’t be used on anything living like a shrub, flower or tree. But for a small, specific area like that around a light socket, Phantom can prove effective.
Phantom Aerosol: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/pt-phantom-17-5oz
Just spot treat the area daily and keep the light on every night. Over the days following the treatments, the hornets will acquiring some of the active ingredient and in turn, start to transfer it to other members of their colony. Ultimately this exposure will lead to the nests demise. This might take 5-7 days to happen but when you’re not sure where the nest is located, a small consequence when all things are considered.
The fourth approach and the least effective way to minimize these nuisance hornets is to keep a can of HORNET FREEZE close by and ready to spray. This formulation is much stronger then any store bought type and will quickly knock them down as they come around and buzz by the light. It has a long range – up to about 20 feet – and will drop them on contact. It works well for all large bees, wasps and hornets and is handy to have around when needed during the summer months.
Bee Hornet Freeze: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/hornet-killer-15-oz
It is important to realize that all of the methods listed above may not eliminate local activity altogether. This is especially true if you have a nest on the home or immediately adjacent to the house. The only product which can do that is the Honeydew Gel. The Cypermethrin, Glueboards and Hornet Freeze may only reduce local activity which could rebound in a few weeks. One can never tell just how effective these treatments will be. Since European Hornets only send out a few “scouts” whose job is to locate such areas, by killing them you will certainly be preventing them from instructing the rest of the nest to go where you don’t want them to be. This approach could prove quite effective over the course of a season – especially if they identify other areas to forage. When this happens, you may never see them around again.
EUROPEAN HORNET NESTS
If you suspect there is a nest close by, you will be best served if it is treated directly. If you have a nest in the home, it is strongly suggested that you treat it as soon as possible. This is important for two reasons.
First, these hornets can and do chew. It is not unusual for them to find their way into your living area if you allow them to thrive on outside siding or soffits.
Secondly, for some reason, nests seem to be active in areas from year to year if left to live in any one season. Its suspected that queens may overwinter close to where they had a successful nest in the previous year or that any one nest might have several queens that migrate out and from the group that migrates, one lingers in the region and then creates a nest close to this area the following year. Regardless, a nest left to “die off” during the winter is almost assuredly going to help contribute to a nest being active in the same area the following year.
FINDING EUROPEAN HORNET NESTS IS HARD TO DO
Since these hornets are comfortable traveling great distances to find food, in most cases it’s not so easy to locate a nest which can make the problem tougher to control. No doubt being able to treat a nest directly insures a quick and concise resolution. But if you only have one of the problems listed above and no idea where the main nest is located, treatment options will be limited to one of the “indirect” options. No doubt these will work; they just won’t provide instant results like you’ll achieve when you’re able to treat the nest directly.
EUROPEAN HORNET CONTROL IN THE HOME
If you have a nest in the siding of the home, an overhang, a soffit or some other part of the house, you will need to treat it directly if you want to prevent them from being a nuisance and chewing into the living area. Treatment can be done one of two ways. Like yellow jackets, European Hornet nests are large. If the nest gets into a wall void you will be able to hear them from inside the home. If you can identify just where the nest is from the inside, you will be able to treat it from there as well. The best way to do this would be to identify what you believe to be the center of the nest. Once you locate the center, you will need to drill small holes, about 1/8 inch wide, which will be used for injecting an aerosol. DFORCE AEROSOL works well for these hornets and it comes with a small tube, much like the tube found on a can of WD-40. All you need to do is slide the tube into the holes and pump for 10-20 seconds per hole. This insures good coverage. Most nests are about the size of a basketball so to insure you get complete coverage you will need to drill several holes.
First, locate the center of where you think the nest is situated. Now move 12 inches to the right and make another hole. Move another 12 inches to the right and make the third hole. Now go back to the first hole you made and move 12 inches to the left and make a hole. Move another 12 inches to the left to make another hole. At this point you should have 5 holes in a row (parallel to the floor) and spaced 12 inches apart. Now go back to the first hole and go 12 inches up and make a hole. Complete a pattern exactly like the first row you made which will be 5 holes spaced 12 inches apart. This row should be parallel to the first row and of equal length located directly above the first row.
Once complete move 12 inches up again and create another 5 holes. At this point you will have 15 holes starting at the middle of the nest and going up. To complete the pretreatment process, go back to the first hole you made and drop down 12 inches. Add the 4 more holes, two on either side, spaced 12 inches apart. Once that row is complete drop down another 12 inches and create another row of 5 holes spaced 12 inches apart. If done properly you will have a total of 25 holes creating a nice “grid” through which you will be able to apply the Dforce to get great coverage regardless of whether or not your first hole was centered properly. Start treating on the side which you think is farthest away from their point of entry. Spray for 10-20 seconds per hole and once all the holes have been sprayed you can go back and spray some more if you still hear them making noise. The Dforce will kill them quickly since it’s a fast working contact killer. It’s also a flushing agent which means hornets close by will sense it and be affected so be sure and treat every where you see or suspect movement. This “shotgun” approach will kill the nest even if you are not exactly sure where it is centered.
EUROPEAN HORNET TREATMENTS WITH PROTECTIVE SUITS
In most cases, you will not be able to treat the nest from inside. Nests will be in soffits, overhang voids or attic areas. These nests are just as important to treat but because of their location can make for a tricky treatment. This is further complicated because you will probably have to use a ladder to access the nest as well as be subject to getting stung. If you decide to attempt this type of treatment, you will have to use professional equipment. This will include a BEE VEIL, BEE HAT, BEE SUIT and BEE GLOVES. Getting properly protected will remove the risk of getting stung and enable you to treat the nest without distractions.
EUROPEAN HORNET DUST
The other key is using the right product. No doubt the right product is DRIONE DUST. Drione is a unique dust that has physical characteristics much like smoke and will penetrate the void completely insuring all parts of the nest are reached. Apply it with a HAND DUSTER and dust through holes they are using to enter the nest. Though you may be able to get good coverage from this hole alone, it is generally best if you drill some extra holes on each side of the main entrance/exit hole which are big enough to fit the tip of the duster. This will allow you to get great coverage over the entire area. Keep in mind that without the Bee equipment listed above you will probably get stung. These hornets are aggressive when provoked and nothing makes them more mad then someone poking around their nest!
If you have equipped yourself with the equipment listed above they won’t be able to do anything. Though you will have several attempting to sting, their efforts will be futile. It may be a little unnerving to focus in on the task at hand when you start hearing all the buzzing and seeing them coming at you from different angles but you can trust the equipment – it will do it’s job! Be sure to get the needed coverage which means you will need to puff at least 4-8 ounces of the Drione dust in the nest. If you are using the large duster, this will be the entire amount if you fill it up all the way. I like to use at least that much and sometimes more if it’s a big nest. The great thing about Drione is that it works so quickly you will see them dying as you treat. Generally the nest is shut down within a day or two of the treatment. If you still have them flying around a week later you will need to apply more.
European Hornets are a big nuisance around some homes. If they are drawing sap from any of your trees or shrubs, use some of the Honeydew Gel to keep them away. Spray some Cypermethrin or set up some large Glueboards if they are landing around outside lights. Once inside the home, you will need to treat from the inside with someDforce Aerosol if you can; use the Drione Dust if you have to treat from the outside. Be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety equipment since these hornets pack a nasty sting and will get very aggressive once you start poking around their nests. If you have European Hornets on your property you have several options available for treatment. Once the problem is identified use the right treatment if you want to keep them away or kill their nests.
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