You are here:

Pest Control/bell hornets


Paul shepherd wrote at 2008-09-04 01:05:48
Bell Hornets are also called Europian Hornets or giant hornets. They are agressive if you bother thier nest. I am allergic to bees and have a nest of the Bell hornets in a cherry tree trunk at the end of our driveway. And though the reports on line say the hornet do not use the same nest twice, i have found the ones living in my tree didnt not read that supposed fact, since they have come back for two years to the same tree in the same spot. I have spayed every hornet killing spray i can buy on them and on the nest and they do not die they just get mad. The best advice is to wait till winter and seal up all the holes and entrances they use with liquid nails or cement. The seam to eat through everything else.

Renee wrote at 2008-09-09 22:21:01
I had the same problem with hornets. Light attracts them. You couldn't even go outside without ducking and if the garage door was open and the light was on many would get in. I solved my problem by getting a large Bug Zapper. No more hornets. Well worth the investment.

sheriffanne wrote at 2009-08-18 18:26:29
I live in Varina, Va. we had bell hornets for 31 of the 32 years we have lived here, last year when pear tree was full my husband and I would spent at least one hour each night shooting the bell hornets on the ground inside the fallen pears, this is first year we have not been bothered with them, we probably killed them all last year, they get around the light at night when I take the dogs out have fought them for years, they get inside pants on clothes line and would come out n bedroom have chased a many of them inside house, one stung my husband while riding a riding mower in 1977 and it knocked him clear over the front of the mower, he thought he had been shot from the road 300 feet away, their sting so powerful a person with a bad heart it would kill immediately we had nest around here for years, can't find any this year, thank God.

Akers, varina

madhrnt wrote at 2009-08-28 00:21:17
renee, thanks for the bug light idea, i am certainly going to try it....

sheriffanne, what did you shoot them with, i have been shooting them with a bb gun and have killed probably a 100 or so, but they seem to keep coming back....

Gary Forest,va wrote at 2009-09-11 02:41:46
These are known as European Hornets AKA Bell Hornets. These hornets like hollow trees in woody areas and fly at night. I currently have them in the wall of my house and I will have to wait until the fall to close the hole up.

Margaret King wrote at 2011-08-31 01:28:17
You can put a pan of soapy water under your porch light. Dish detergent works.

We had a problem with them use the porch light set a large pan under the light with soapy water they would fall in and were dead. You will need to have it about 10 inches from the light. let me know if this works for you.  

Phyllis wrote at 2011-09-03 22:19:20
Look for the nest. They build a nest that looks much like paper wasp nest. It could even be in the walls of your home. Once you find the nest if it is in a closed in area set off a bug bomb near it and they will die or most of them will. Pull the nest out after a few hours and burn the larva that are in the nest. We found a nest in between our hot tub and the outside cabinet. The nest was size of a basket ball. The bomb kill most of the bees what was left were not able to get away too fast and they were swatted. Hope this helps you.

Phyllis wrote at 2011-09-03 22:24:51
To Paul Shepard,

The bees don't actually come back to the nest ea year they in fact don't leave it. They hybernate in the nest during the winter. They are hardy for sure. If I were you I would have someone remove the tree or seal up the base where they are going in and out. They may not sting but they sure have a bad bite. Any loud sound will get them on the move.  

Becky in bee county wrote at 2011-09-16 20:46:55
Last person is correct, they dont leave the nests only hybernate in it. Also in the fall they are far more active around say, abandoned hummingbird feeders as they attempt to bulk up the hive for the winter months. They are very NON agressive as compared to other wasps and hornets. If you watch closely as you approach you will see them slowly backing away. They tend to nest only in trees, usually around the base as they use the bark to make their paper like nests. You can actually mow grass within 20 in of the nest shooting grass away from nest and not have a problem. The easiest way to rid yourself of them is to use their attraction to light. Get an old 5 gal paint bucket. Fill it about half way with water, add about a cup of old used motor oil (any oil will do but why waste good stuff). Hang a drop lamp, plant lamp etc over the bucket. Once they get to the light they eventually will fly into the water. The oil keeps them from being able to fly or escape.  

Vickie McKinley wrote at 2011-09-22 23:38:36
I have called these Bell hornets my whole life too.  I like leaving doors open at night, but am unable to do that because of the hornets.  If you have fruit trees in your yard, you will probably find the trees full of them during harvest time.  They are a nuisance in my area all thru the summer into fall.  My best guess is that what we have always called Bell are really European hornets.  Although looking at the picture of a European, the Bell seems to be much more yellow.  Fact is, I have one flying around my kitchen right now.  They don't seem to be overly aggressive, but I imagine if one bit you, it would hurt like the dickens.  I am also in Virginia and this year (2011) has seemed like an over abundance of them.

Edgurr wrote at 2012-05-08 02:13:06
I live in central Virginia and we have a real problem with these European(aka German, Bell) hornets. The scientific name is Vespa Crabro and, as the common name implies, are not native to the USA. They are, in fact the only true hornet in the US. They eat our fruit especially apples but go for anything as soon as the sugar increases. They are active both in day and night. I have seen them attack one of my dogs as soon as it was a few feet from the nest opening. My wife has been stung twice while picking apples- once on the head and on the hand. The results were severe swelling and pain that lasted for days. A bug zapper with the protective screen partly cut away to allow for their large bodies to pass through and an incandescent light behind it is an effective remedy, but you need one in the front and back of the house. Raid wasp and hornet spray will knock them down. Killing the nest can be done at night from a vehicle and a 12"length of hypodermic tubing fitted to the nozzle of the Raid can. Drive up to the nest as close as possible and crack open the passenger side window just enough to stick the tubing out and aim it. Spray into the entrance with the aid of a flashlight. They will attack the car! Light the nest opening from a window other than the one cracked open.

In Germany they are protected and "maliciously" killing one or destroying a nest carries up to a 60,000 Euro fine. Yup, 60K which is about $80,000 American. Go figure!

Paul Whitehead III wrote at 2012-08-17 13:00:35
I have bell hornets too, this time of year they are attracted to my porch and spot lights. I live near Lovingston, Nelson county, not far from Bedford. I was stung on the wrist three days ago and my forearm is still a little swollen. Their nest is usually a grey paper spherical ball from softball to soccer ball size. A shotgun with bird shot at close range is effective but a cup of gasoline and roman candle is my preferred disposal method.

Matt wrote at 2012-08-27 02:22:29
I live 20 miles north west of Charlottesville, Va. and have seen many more of these giant wasps this year. They are destroying the apples on my three trees as they ripen and are eating the bark on my white lilac bush. I try to go out everyday and spray them with wasp spray, Bonide brand will drop them dead in their tracks, other brands will work but much slower and will allow them to fly short distances, be careful! The fruit tree spray seems to have no effect.

Paul Whitehead III wrote at 2012-09-03 01:16:55
I found shoo-fly Hornet Wasp jet bomb II drops them dead immediately. yellow can with red writing. Not a weak ortho product from Lowe's. found some at the tyro Mountain View Tea Room on 56 near Massie's Mill, Nelson County, VA. Check country stores in your area

bobaloo wrote at 2012-09-10 02:03:14
I have the same problem(s) with these hornets. They eat and destroy all the apples on my tree and are eating the bark off of my lilac tree. I am using Raid wasp and hornet spray and it is pretty effective on them. I would like to find the nest and get rid of these things, I haven't had a chance to enjoy my apples for several years now. I am hoping the nest is not too far from my home and is not in a neighbors yard.  

JustJoe wrote at 2012-09-11 13:37:52
I am out to the east of Charlottesville in a wooded area and have these every year.  I'm normally not able to locate the nest.  For most of the year they are not a big problem as I have none of the fruit or ornamentals that they seem to like and damage.  But come about about late August through September they just become a complete nuisance.  Constant daytime roving patrols all around my house and the light attraction is particularly annoying.  

I have been making homemade traps that capture both these and yellow jackets.  Take a clear 2 liter bottle or similar.  Cut a hole in the side about halfway up - 1" diameter or so.  Fill the bottom with some fruit juice and throw in some chunks of apple - an older apple that's started to turn is especially good.  Put the lid on the bottle and hang it out of the way anyplace that you tend to see them.  They enter the hole, but after feeding tend to try to fly up and out.  They don't know enough to go for the hole in the side.

They will sometimes find the hole anyway and escape, but you can improve the design with a short piece of PVC of the appropriate size.  Just put a slot on one side of the pipe and insert it into the hole in the bottle with the slot about sideways.  That greatly reduces the odds that they find their out.

You'll probably get yellow jackets right away.  Sometimes it takes a while for the European hornets to show up - even as much as a week.  But eventually they will show up in numbers and the whole bottom of that bottle will fill up with them.  I've found that this at least helps reduce the annoyance.  It also just feels good - take that I say.  

lynn wrote at 2014-04-26 19:40:10
We are in Fairfax VA and have a barn which these bees/hornets seem to love. We got a hornet spray at Sears which expands after you spray it, it acts like that "great stuff" insulation foam. Works like a charm because it stops them in their tracks. Only place I have ever seen it is at Sears though.

Pest Control

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


George Manning


I welcome any pest problem questions that you have, and will answer in a way that will direct you to proper solutions. See if you can stump me!


I am educated in the field of Entomology. I graduated from Purdue University and have owned and operated a pest control company in Chicago for over 40 years. I am frequently quoted in both of Chicago's newspapers and have appeared countless times on local television, primarily in the area of rodent control.

Illinois Pest Control Association

Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine

Bachelors of Science Entomology Purdue University

©2017 All rights reserved.