What does a hornet look like?

To begin, you might want to know that the only true hornets that can be found in the United States are the European hornets. The bald-faced hornet is also quite common in the United States, but these ones are actually more closely connected to the yellow jacket.

The European hornets are brown in color, although they also have yellow-orange stripes. The bald-faced hornet is black, with some white-grey stripes on it as well.

The European hornet has a length of about one inch and a half, while the bald-faced hornet is slightly smaller with an average length of three-quarters of an inch.

However, generally, hornets are known to have two pairs of wings, wide heads and six legs. Their stingers are also not bared, and this means that a hornet is able to sting more than one time.

Also, check our guide about the most effective wasp traps.

The difference between a wasp and a hornet

Scientists have classified insects into a wide array of species and, in fact, the only true species of true hornets in the United States is the European hornet (as stated above). However, the bald-faced hornet is actually a wasp, although it is usually identified by the homeowner as a hornet.
This is why most people define hornets as just the bald-faced hornet and the European hornet, while the paper wasps and the yellow jackets will be identified as the species of wasps.

Here are a few differences between wasps and hornets:

Diet and choice of foodHornets prey on other insects, and they are very rarely seen as scavengers for sweets and proteins.Wasps also prey on other insects, but they are known to be scavengers of proteins and sweets as well.
AggressionHornets are quite relaxed, but they can get really aggressive when they sense a disturbance to their nest.For wasps, there is a slight division.
Paper wasps will most likely not sting you.
However, the yellow jacket is known to be very aggressive.


Hornets are one and a half inches long. Wasps are about three-quarters of an inch long.


 Hornets are either black and white or brownish-red. Wasps come in a wide array of colors.
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