Vespa crabo germana Christ, 1791
Common names: Hornet, Gigant Hornet, European Hornet [En], Hoornaar [Nl], Frelon, Guêpe frelon, Guichard ]Fr], Calabrone [It], Abejón, Arispón [Es], Avrupa Eşek Arıları [Tu]
Meise, BRABANT ● Belgium
9 subspecies have been described :
• V. crabro crabro Linnaeus, 1758 – North and Central Europe, black thorax
• V. crabro vexator Harris, 1776 – South England
• V. crabro germana Christ, 1791 – Central Europe, red "V" on the thorax
• V. crabro crabroniformis Smith, 1852
• V. crabro oberthuri du Buysson, 1902
• V. crabro flavofasciata Cameron, 1903 - Japan
• V. crabro altaica Pérez, 1910
• V. crabro caspica Pérez, 1910
• V. crabro chinensis Birula, 1925
Biology : The arrival of warm April days marks the emergence of the new queens, born and mated the previous autumn. After emerging, their first task is to undertake investigation flights to find a suitable nesting-place and food in the form of tree sap and insects. Since natural tree cavities are becoming rare, they often use human habitation. When the queen has decided on a nesting-place, she first makes a small pedicel (stalk) from which the nest will be suspended. The first cells are built outwardly from it and are soon all occupied with eggs. After five to eight days small larva (quantity 1-2mm) develop, which during the coming twelve to fourteen days pass through five larval stages.
After five to ten female workers have emerged, the queen starts to fly from the nest less and less, with the workers taking over the role of foraging. Workers are noticeably smaller (18-25mm) than the queen (35mm), and only live for three to four weeks. Eventually the queen becomes nest bound and will never leave the nest again. She now focuses solely on reproduction, the function she will perform until her demise at the end of the season.
In the time between mid August and mid September, the hornet colony achieves its developmental peak, amounting to 400 - 700 animals and a 60 cm high nest. The queen now lays eggs, which become males (also called drones, quantity 21-28mm) and young queens. The appearance of the first sexuals (queens and males) indicates the decline of the colony. The workers are now busy feeding the sexuals with protein and carbohydrates. This provides the young queens with the necessary reserves for the long hibernation phase. On beautiful autumn days, the sexuals swarm out to mate. After mating, males die quickly.
The inseminated young queens now hunt for a suitable hibernation place. With a short life span, the last female workers die at the beginning of November and with them the last activity in the nest.
The hornet is essentially a predator of a wide variety of insects. The main food of the hornets is approximately 90% flies, and only occasionally bees. Hornets dismember captured insects with their powerful mandibles removing head, legs, wings and abdomen. Only the thorax, with the proteinaceous flight musculature, is transported as little meatballs to the nest and fed to the larvae.
Peaceful animals for humans: Outside of the nest area hornets never attack groundlessly. Few people realise that hornets are amazingly peaceful animals, even shier than honey bees, which prefer to evade conflict. Scientifically it has been shown that stings of hornets are less dangerous than bees.
Unlike bees, the poison of wasps and hornets is not intended for use against vertebrates alone. Bees are nectar collecting animals, but wasps and hornets are hunters of insect prey. With several kilograms of honey in an average bees nest, the primary role of the bee sting is to defend the colony against sweet-toothed attackers, ranging from mouse to humans. This explains the autonomous sting of the honey bee, a bee will lose its sting and its life stinging a vertebrate. What it gains is the injection of additional poison from the poison gland which continues to pump on its release. Wasps and hornets use their sting to kill troublesome insect prey. They cannot afford to be wasteful, as they need to be able to sting repeatedly
Distribution: Central and Northern Europe, Asia to Japan, introduced to North America
Vespa-crabo.de, Hornets: Gentle Giants!