True hornets are members of the wasp family. All hornets are wasps, but not all wasps are hornets. The only true hornet commonly seen in the United States is the European hornet, also known as the brown hornet. Invasive Asian giant hornets, recently found in the Pacific Northwest, are also true hornets, but they are very uncommon in the United States.

European hornets grow about 1 1/2 inches long — up to three times the size of common wasps and yellow jackets. Rather than yellow and black markings like yellow jackets, European hornets have yellow and reddish-brown markings. In contrast to the yellow-orange heads of Asian giant hornets, European hornets have reddish-brown heads and yellow faces.

Bald-faced hornets are native North American wasps that are part of the yellow jacket family. Though these insects are not true hornets, they're what most Americans visualize when they think of hornets and hornet nests — especially in the Southeast. Also known as white-faced hornets, they grow about 7/8 inch long with cream-white markings on their heads and abdomens.


European hornets are one of the few stinging insects that fly at night. Hornets bouncing against brightly lit windows nightly, much like June beetles, may be the first sign of a nearby colony. Like yellow jackets, European hornets create large, papery, comb-like nests in tree cavities or other voids, so nests may be hard to locate.

Bald-faced hornets create large, obvious papery nests that hang like oversized footballs from trees, shrubs or house eaves. The large greyish nests have a single opening in the bottom where hornets come and go.


Even though European hornets are active at night, they move more slowly in early morning and evening hours. Treat hornets during these less active times to reduce your likelihood of getting stung. Amdro brand offers several highly effective options to protect your family against hornet stings:

  • Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer Ready to Spray kills hornets by contact and keeps protect against these pests for up to three months. The ready-to-spray container attaches easily to a garden hose to measure and mix automatically. Treat lawn, plant surfaces, or home foundations up to a height of 3 feet.
  • Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer Concentrate comes with a convenient measuring cap to simplify the mixing process. Dilute the product according to label instructions in a pump-style garden sprayer. Then spray to kill existing hornets by contact and protect against new hornets for up to three months.


Hornets are less aggressive than yellow jackets, unless they're threatened or disturbed. A single nest can hold thousands of hornets — all capable of repeated stings. If you have a large hornet nest, seek professional help for removal.

Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully.

Is this not your insect?