Yellow-Legged Hornet Found in Georgia
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As if we needed another large wasp to strike fear in residents of the US, the state of Georgia is reporting the detection of a single specimen of the yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina) near the city of Savannah. There are no reports yet of an active colony, but the folks down there are busy investigating.
Concerns about this hornet stem from their potential to kill honey bees, as well as establish large colonies of stinging insects. This species creates large paper nests in trees and eaves of human structures, much like our native bald-faced hornets (Dolichovespula maculata).
At this time there is no evidence that this wasp is in North Carolina. However, this species has a high potential for invading new areas. Despite this, we have many similar wasps and other insects that might be mistaken for this species. I will be updating these pages with this new species, but for now information on large wasps and their lookalikes can be found on this page.
Characteristics to look for in specimens suspected to be yellow-legged hornets (see images below):
- queens are about 1″ and workers are about 3/4″ long
- base of legs dark, while tips (tarsi) are yellow or pale yellow
- thorax and head mostly dark, though front of face is yellow
- abdomen with dark base (some thin yellow stripes); segments becoming more yellow near the tip of the abdomen
If you suspect you have found a yellow-legged hornet, first check carefully the characteristics mentioned above. If you have photos and/or specimens and are still unsure on the ID, please submit them through the NC State Plant Disease and Insect Clinic’s system (instructions can be found here).
- Giant Northern Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) and Yellow-Legged Hornet (Vespa velutina), Potential Pests of Honey Bees. Clemson University
- USDA: North American Hornet Screening Tool [Vespa velutina fact sheet]. L.S. Kimsey, T.M. Gilligan, J.M Carpenter, A.H. Smith-Pardo, A.J. Redford. Content last updated June 2021
- Vespa velutina. University of Florida