Skip to Main Content

Wasps vs. Hornets

What’s the difference between a wasp and a hornet? Because wasps and hornets are one and the same, it may be hard to tell which flying insect is swarming, but these small details can be used to differentiate one from the other. Here is what you need to know regarding wasps vs. hornets.

Body Size and Colors

Identification depends on the species. The wasp is commonly smaller than hornet species and tends to vary less in color. While wasps appear to have a black and yellow color pattern, hornets are often black, reddish, or brown with white marking variations.

Both wasps and hornets are hairless insects with stingers than allow for multiple attacks, unlike the bee species, which die after a single sting.

The Most Famous Hornets

Asian Giant Hornet AKA The Murder Hornet

asian giant hornet

European Hornet

european hornet

Bald Faced Hornet (actually a yellow jacket, but included for name’s sake)

bald faced hornet

Food Sources

Both wasps and hornets are predatory insects, meaning they prey on other insects for nutrition. A key difference is that wasps also crave sweets, so they will frequently hover around your sugary treats, beverages, and a variety of other foods.


Most wasps and hornets are social insects, meaning they nest in colonies. When wasps are present, you may notice more ground nests that appear as burrows. Some wasp species, such as paper wasps, will build exposed nests above ground. Hornets are more likely to nest above ground under overhangs and in walls, trees, or shrubs.


Wasps and hornets both have aggressive tendencies in some species; however, wasps are more likely to attack when provoked or handled. Hornets, on the other hand, are highly territorial and become defensive of their nesting areas when intruders approach.

It is important to note that both wasps and hornets are defenders and protect their nests by attacking intruders.

What To Do About Them

Regardless of whether you are dealing with wasps, yellow jackets, or hornets, nest location and removal is the key. Removing the nest in cooler times such as the evening when more are likely to be gathered together will yield quicker results (and oftentimes a safer situation if it is cool enough that they are less active).

After removing the nest, habitat alteration and food source reduction are the focus. This helps mitigate the chances of them relocating on your property or a new batch coming in to stay. Finally, applying protective barriers in likely nesting sites will help keep them out thereafter.

Find out more about different control strategies for different stinging pests here.

Wasp & Hornet Experts

If you are dealing with a wasp or hornet issue or simply don’t want to have to worry about one developing, reach out to the wasp and hornet experts at Rove Pest Control. We have the tools and experience necessary to track down where they are coming from, get rid of what is there, and prevent them from coming back.