VIDEO: A terrifying discovery behind the drywall in a bedroom at a home in Pennsylvania — 2-inch long European Hornets nesting in the wall, which is a scenario that is possible in Illinois.
Hornet King is a YouTube channel that documents the work of professional Bret Davis, who runs a wasp and hornet removal service based in Christiana, Pennsylvania.
Recently, Bret Davis responded to a home where the homeowner reported a space behind a bedroom wall at the home was infested with yellow jackets. Davis could hear scraping behind the drywall (two feet away from the wall) and was prepared to cut the drywall to access the nest. The exterior wall was a brick wall.
When Davis made his initial cut into drywall, he was surprised to find the nest was built by European Hornets (Vespa crabo) when hornets as large as two inches long began to fly out of the hole. He quickly blocked his newly-cut hole to prevent the entire swarm from entering the bedroom all at once. He then cut the wall carefully while using a vacuum to capture the escaping the European Hornets in a controlled manner. His goal was catch all the European Hornets and the remove the nest and larvae behind the wall.
The nest, which probably weighed 15-20 pounds, was removed through the drywall hole and taken out of the customer’s home. All foragers and workers were extracted using a vacuum and killed in the soapy water inside the vacuum. The queen and the nest, were carried out of the home and taken to Bret’s ranch, where the larvae were fed to hens and roosters.
European Hornets are more common in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and other eastern states, but they are known to nest in Illinois and may be moving west and increasing in numbers in Illinois.
The European Hornet is the only true hornet known in the United States. They are much larger than wasps and bees, and have an intimidating humming noise when they fly nearby. European Hornets like to nest in void spaces of homes, sheds, patio decks, and dead or dying trees. They are rarely seen until a nest is located near or inside a home.
European Hornets have also been known to nest in chimneys, and homeowners can get a nasty surprise if a flue is opened when the nest is located on the other side of the flue.
European Hornets, which build large nests above ground, are a little bigger than Eastern Cicada Killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus), which build nests in the ground. The two are often mistaken with each other because of their similar size, but they look a lot different. Eastern Cicada Killers, which are black and cream yellow in color and are more slender, don’t build colony nests with a large number of workers. They are solitary wasps and build a nest for larvae in the ground. They are often seen near homes and baseball diamonds at public parks, flying mostly low to the ground. Both European Hornets and Eastern Cicada Killer wasps are more active and visible this time of year in mid-summer and late-summer.
European Hornets can build a nest in a void space in a home, and when homeowners seal their entrance/exit to the exterior (not a recommended practice) this can be dangerous because European Hornets can chew through drywall and enter the living space of a home when they lose their exit to outdoors. Because of their larger stinger and larger volume of venom, their sting is extremely painful. Some “experts” describe European Hornets as non-aggressive, but European Hornets are protective of their nest, and might attack when a human gets within 25 feet of the nest. There are many people who have reported aggressive, painful encounters by European Hornets.
European Hornets get more frenzied in late summer as food is more scarce and they are driven to support the larvae in the nest. European Hornets also fly at night, which is unusual for wasp or hornet-like insects, and they will dive bomb near porch lights to catch prey that is flying near porch lights. People are sometimes attacked in this night-porch light scenario. Sometimes the European Hornets are also attracted to windows of a lit room.
European Hornets are also often mistaken for Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia and Vespa mandarinia japonica), which are a known deadly hornet in Japan and other parts of Asia. Asian Giant Hornets are not known to have established anywhere in the United States. However, it is possible that an occasional stray has made it in a shipment. A large Black-Tailed hornet (Vespa ducalis) native to Asia is known to have strayed into Vancouver, Canada in May 2019. It’s possible that large hornets from Asia could also be accidentally imported into the United States via freighter jets from Asia that arrive daily at O’Hare. Experts in Vancouver from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum experts consulted experts in Asia to positively identify the species as Vespa ducalis. The experts at Beaty Biodiversity Museum think the hornets arrived in a shipping container on an ocean freighter.
If you ever see European Hornets near your home, watch your home to see if they are streaming in and out of a location at your home. If there is no streaming into your home, they probably have a nest at a neighbor’s house or at a large hole or void space in a dead or partially dead tree nearby.
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