AppearanceThe queen measures 25 to 50 mm long; males and workers are smaller. In males, as in most members of the Aculeata, the antennae have 13 segments, while in females there are only 12; also as in other aculeates, the male abdomen has seven visible segments, while the female has six; females possess an ovipositor modified into a sting which is not barbed.
The eyes are deeply indented, shaped like a C. The wings are reddish-orange, while the petiolate abdomen is brown striped with yellow. The European hornet is larger than the common wasp, but smaller than some Asian hornet species. It has hair on the thorax and abdomen, although the European hornet is not as hairy as most bees.
European hornets often have the rove beetle ''Velleius dilatatus'' living in their colonies.
StatusUnwarranted fear has often led to the destruction of nests, leading to the decline of the species, which is often locally threatened or even endangered. European hornets benefit from legal protection in some countries, notably Germany, where it has been illegal to kill a European hornet or nest since 1 January 1987, with a fine of up to 50,000 Euros.
In Australia however, they represent a noxious introduced species and thrive in the warmer conditions, often reaching minor plague proportions during hot, dry summers.
ReproductionEuropean hornets are attracted to lights at night, but are not attracted to human foods and food wastes. However, they can totally destroy fruits, such as apples, while the fruit is still on the tree. This is quite unlike the bald-faced hornet or other social wasps.
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