Difference Between Wasps and Hornets (With Table)

Both hornets and wasps got their roots from the same family. They belong to the Vespidae family, and having shared this similarity, they often become subject to confusion. It is not possible to distinguish between them unless you have a piece of thorough knowledge about these insects.

Wasps vs Hornets

The difference between wasps and hornets is that wasps are smaller in size compared to hornets. Hornets always stay in groups, and they are not likely to sting until they or their nests are attacked. Some species of wasps prefer to live in solitude. Wasps are fierce and very inclined to sting people.

Wasps are small insects that have black and white striped bodies. Their lower body is pointed, and they have a wide variety of species. They feast on insects, and they are great pollinators. By eating insects and spreading pollen, they help to preserve the ecosystem. Wasps are prone to sting.

Hornets are robust, and their size varies from 1 to 1.5 inches. They are a subspecies of wasps. They also fulfil the same objectives as wasps and act as pests and pollinators. Hornets stay active during the day as well as at night. Their sting can cause great harm.

Comparison Table Between Wasps and Hornets

Parameters of ComparisonWaspsHornets
Size Wasps are smaller than hornets.Hornets ate bigger in size.
ColourThe wasps are mostly black with yellow rings.Hornets are mostly reddish with golden and dark brown stripes.
Caused harmWasps are known to be more aggressive.Hornets are only likely to sting when bothered.
Eating habitThey are attracted to sweets and proteins. Not likely to get attracted by sweets.
Lower body partThe lower part of the wasps is pointed.The lower part of hornets is round and fat.

What are Wasps?

Wasps retain a great diversity. More than 30,000 species can be found in this world. Being such a diverse insect with thousands of variants, it comes in a wide range of colours.

Wasps are known to have a short life. Mostly they live for less than a year. Worker wasps just have a few months long life. But queen wasps are entitled to live and rule for several years.

New male and queen wasps get produced in summer as wasps die in the cold climate. The breeding starts in spring. Queens of the group starts building the colony by laying eggs and assembling a nest.

Even though most wasps are known to live in groups, they are social insects, but some wasps live in solitary. These wasps do not make a nest. Social wasps make their nests with the help of the chewed up bark of the trees and mix it with saliva to prepare rag paper. They mostly eat other insects, but they get like sweets too.

What are Hornets?

Hornets are nothing new but part of the varied species of wasps. Hornets have bigger sizes and a rounder body. The life cycles of wasp and hornets are not the same. Usually, hornets are around 1-1.5 inches long, and their black body has striped white colour. Noticing the colour is the simplest to distinguish it.

Their nests get made with the use of chewed woods. Every best retains a queen who is responsible for laying eggs. Other female hornets which can not produce fertile eggs, her assigned to attend the queen of the nest.

Hornets mainly feed themselves with other insects. They also get used as food. Japanese people eat hornets. As they eat other insects, they often get used to pest control. They attack humans too. If they are disturbed, they sting repetitively and cause great harm.

Main Differences Between Wasps and Hornets

  1. Wasps are smaller in size, even less than 1 inch, whereas hornets are comparatively bigger and robust in nature, the size varying from 1 to 1.5 inches.
  2. Wasps have a pointed body, while hornets possess a rounder lower part.
  3. Wasps are very aggressive and very likely to attack to sting. Their sting can be deadly if not treated immediately. But hornets do not sting until they are bothered.
  4. Wasps look for sweets, but hornets are not very much attracted to sweets.
  5. Wasps mostly stay in groups. They are social, but some species choose to be solitary, whereas hornets, on the other hand, are always social. They stay in groups.
  6. Wasps make nests on the ground or in the air, but solitary wasps never attempt to make nests. But hornets are known to make their nests outside of the trees, shrubs, and under the decks.
  7. Wasps are known to be carnivores. That is, they eat meat. On the other hand, Hornets are classified as insectivores as they feed themselves with other insects and larvae.


Nature and its creations never cease to mesmerise us. The earth contains so many lives, including animals, birds, and insects, and all of them carry such diversity that they often leave us confused.

Unless you are an enthusiast about insects and have studied a lot about them, you can not possibly mark the difference between wasps and hornets. Most often, we do not even get to see them close as both share similar aggressive nature, and their sting might be proven to be fatal.

Both the insects pertain to the Vespidae family. Wasps have thousands of variants of species, and hornet is one of them. Hornets shape, colour and size can help to differentiate between the two.

Both share several similarities. They eat insects and act as pest controls. Both have a queen as the ruler, and both work as pollinators. Hence they keep a balance in the ecosystem. It is important not to annoy any of the above, as they can cause great damage to our health. Their stings are better avoided.


  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12862-014-0277-x
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19800574991
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