Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Giant Hornet

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QUESTION: I saw one of the experts say that the giant hornets are not in PA but I have seen them. I used to live in Tn and had them there and now moved to Pa and have seen them here now also. They seem to be drawn to light regardless what time of night it is. They seem to not stay in their nest like other bees. why is that? When I was in Missouri camping we got bombarded at night by them flying into the fire and our candles. woke up the next morning and found tons of them in the candle wax. Was out the other night in Pa standing on front porch with front porch light on at midnight and one came and kept flying at the light.

ANSWER: Renee:

You are correct that the European Hornet, Vespa crabro , is found in Pennsylvania.  There are records as far north as southern Maine, in fact.  Here is a pretty comprehensive fact sheet I found online:

http://www.uark.edu/ua/arthmuse//crabro.html

I'm not sure why this wasp is both diurnal and nocturnal.  Very unusual behavior for social wasps in a temperate climate.  Perhaps they are hunting other insects attracted to the lights?

Eric

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: How cold does it have to get before u won't see these hornets anymore and where do they nest? Would like to get rid of them if possible.

Answer
Renee:

European Hornets usually nest inside hollow trees, but sometimes between walls in buildings.

The first hard frost should spell the end of colonies, though you should see fewer workers by now.  Only the queens (reproductive females) survive the winter, hibernating in rotten logs and other sheltered, insulated niches.

At this late date, I wouldn't bother trying to "get rid of" them.  It wouldn't be worth it since the colonies will collapse totally in a matter of weeks (no later than mid-October I would think).

Eric

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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