Difference Between Wasp and Hornet

In this world, there are different types of flying insects, the usual ones being wasps and hornets. Wasp and hornet are frequently found winged insects in gardens, forests and even on roofs of buildings and residences.


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Wasp and hornets are a type of species that usually live in groups or colonies.

Key Takeaways

  1. Wasps are a diverse group of insects that can be solitary or social, with varying sizes, colors, and nesting habits, and include species such as paper wasps, yellow jackets, and mud daubers.
  2. Hornets are a specific subset of wasps belonging to the genus Vespa, which are generally larger and more aggressive than other wasp species and build nests using chewed wood pulp mixed with their saliva.
  3. The main difference between wasps and hornets is that hornets are a specific type of wasp, distinguished by their larger size, more aggressive behavior, and unique nesting habits.

Wasp vs Hornet

Wasps have a length of between one and two and a half centimetres. They can be striped or plain red, black, or even blue, and are typically thin. While hornets are larger and more round than wasps. They have bee-like yellow and black stripes. Some have a neurotoxin that can be fatal to humans.

Wasp vs Hornet

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However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonWaspHornet
SizeSmaller in sizeLarger in size
Size in approximate cmaround 2 cmaround 3 cm
ColourBlack and yellow or having multiple colours, since they have a vast number of speciesBlack and white or reddish-brown
Is there hair on the body?Few or no hairSome hair
Pattern of stingingGives repeated stingsIt gives sting plus bite
Which is more dangerous from a human being’s perspective?Less dangerousHornet is more dangerous due to its painful stings and more venom
Does wasp mean hornet and vice versa?A wasp cannot be considered a hornetA hornet can be considered a wasp. Hornet is a type of social wasp
Which one looks frightening?The wasp does not look so scary because of its smaller sizeThe hornet looks spooky because it is larger
How are the nests built?In the air or on the groundIn the tree leaves. Rarely built on the ground.
Are the nests protected from the interior?NoYes
Size of nestsLargerSmaller
What do they feed on?Insects, sweets or waste foodInsects don’t like sweets the way wasp does
Ideal months in which the insects appearSummertimeMonsoon season
Number of SpeciesMany. More than 70000Very less


What is Wasp?

Wasp is a very general and broad term to denote different types of species of winged insects. The wasp is generally black and yellow in colour, with a narrow abdomen.

Wasp has two sets of wings. Wasp tends to sting repeatedly.

Wasp females have stings by birth; males do not.

Wasp is found in almost all geographies in the world except Siberian regions. Wasps will mainly feed on flower nectar, spiders, sweets, small insects, or even dead insects.

If the nests are built around houses, the same can pose a danger to humans because wasps will look for sugary foods as wasps like sugary items.

Any attempt by humans to disrupt their nests can lead to painful (not life-threatening) stings from a wasp. Wasp has multiple species, which can be more than 70000.

The common ones are social wasps and solitary wasps. The social wasp includes yellow jackets and paper wasps who stay in large colonies.

The social wasp will have narrow wings, a waist and with a colour combination of yellow and black stripes. The solitary wasp will have a narrow waist.

Wasp is not synonymous with bees. Bee has pollen baskets that the wasp does not have.


What is Hornet?

Hornet is a species of winged insect which is larger (especially near the abdomen area) and with black and white colour. The hornet belongs to the insect family known as Vespidae.

A hornet can be regarded as a social wasp living in large colonies. Hornet is found in almost all regions of the world. However, the ordinary place will be tropical areas of Asia and the northern hemisphere.

Hornet has around 20 species, the usual ones being the bald-faced Hornet (which is black and white) and European Hornet, which is more extensive, and Asian Hornet, which is smaller in size with a dark abdomen.

The hornet is dangerous and highly aggressive. The Hornet sting is excruciating due to the heavy percentage of venom in the sting.

Hornet can deliver multiple stings, which can be fatal even to a very healthy person leading to severe medical complications

Hornets will feed on insects, wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, fruits, leaves, bees, and tree sap. One of the beneficial aspects of hornet is that it enables control of the population of other insects.

Without a hornet in this world, other insects, such as flies and beetles, would have been out of proportion and a significant nuisance. Also, the hornet tends to pollinate flowers.


Main Differences Between Wasp and Hornet

  1. Wasp is smaller in size. Hornet is larger.
  2. The wasp is ideally in yellow and black or can have multiple patterns. The hornet is black and white or red.
  3. A wasp sting is not so painful. Hornet sting is excruciating due to the abundance of venom in their stings.
  4. Wasp will build its nest in the air or on the ground. Hornets will build their nests in the tree leaves but rarely on the ground.
  5. Wasp is aggressive, especially the yellow jacket wasp. The hornet is highly aggressive; it will attack with painful venom sting if it finds someone going in its way or threatening the existence of nests.
  6. A wasp cannot be considered as Hornet. Hornet is a type of Wasp.
Difference Between Wasp and Hornet
  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/wasps/
  2. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/allergolint/63/1/63_13-OA-0556/_article/-char/ja/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041010105003739
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