Wasps and Hornets
Name: Nina B.
What is the difference between a wasp and a hornet? I
know that they both in the vespa family. However is a wasp a hornet
and/or a hornet a wasp? I tried to look up these two creatures but
cannot find out what the exact difference is between the two.
Along the same lines...can a "yellow jacket"-type wasp be called a hornet?
Wasp and hornet are somewhat generic terms - that is why we have scientific
names! What most people call a "hornet" is the bald-faced hornet, which
builds large - up to basketball size - paper nests in trees. Yellow-jackets
are closely related and may be called either wasps or hornets. In the
eastern U.S. there are 2 common yellow jackets, nearly identical in
appearance, a native one lives in the ground and a European import more
likely in buildings. Bald faced hornets and yellow jackets are all in the
subfamily Vespinae. Many other related insects are called wasps, often they
are more narrow-waisted than the Vespas and either solitary or have only
relatively small social colonies. They include potters and paper wasps that
attach small nests to buildings and many other kinds. Many more types are
less well known, a good guide like the Peterson Field Guide to Insects will
give you an outline.
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Update: June 2012