European Hornets Persist in My Garden

European hornet in garden.

European hornets are big, bold but willing to share space.

In the interest of knowing my enemy…better….I wanted to find out where European hornets nest.

Penn State’s extension office gave me the full boat on these very big  hornets who, when challenged, can be pretty darned aggressive.

Apparently, they create nests above ground, often in abandoned trees.  I first saw these hornets in my garden 3 years ago when my figs outdid themselves and the hornets have since moved in but I don’t know where.

I do know that they love my blueberry patch – hence the Tyvex suits on my sister and I as we go blueberry picking.  The colanders are just for show!

Blueberry picking around hornets

Meg and I do battle with hornets for blueberries.

Apparently, our choice of attire was a fortunate one. These hornets don’t like black or dark clothing and will warn you off by butting you.  If you don’t get the message, they will bite to defend their nest but, for all their size, European hornets are considered “docile.”

That said, I still wear Tyvex — now when I try to pick blackberries because that’s where the hornets are in August.  Unfortunately, the hornets are still sharing space with the Japanese beetles that are still hanging on, chewing through my plants and eating only the ripe berries, of course!

Anyway, if you see any of these big boys in your garden, back away slowly. Don’t arm wave or bat at them.  They just want you to go away but if you don’t, if you appear to be a threat, remember that European hornets are big; they will bite with malice aforethought and they can sting 8 or 9 times.

Who says gardening is a quiet past time?  It’s always an adventure in my backyard and I’ll bet it is in yours, too.





9 responses to “European Hornets Persist in My Garden

  1. I can truly relate to your gardening woes… I have a family of wasps in my permaculture bed, right next to the parsley I can’t get close enough to weed or pick. I wonder if wasps dislike black as well?

    I’ve read that they can’t see red, so I wear a red shirt in the garden.. So, far as long as I leave them their space, they leave me alone when I’m sitting less than two feet away from them. I have bird plastic netting covering the permaculture bed and the wasps are eating their way through it to make flying in and out easier for them I guess, or they might use it underneath the ground ~ nesting for the winter time here in Canada..

    Great outfits and hats by the way, love it!

    Take care from Laura ~

    • Glad you can sit 2 feet away and not be disturbed. I really hate ground wasps and hornets. I have a visceral reaction to wasps and hornets that makes me back out of the garden, blueberries, blackberries…as soon as I see one. Have been stung a couple of times by ground dwellers including last summer so I think I am just leery of them. The European hornets do girdle trees to get bark for their nests so maybe they are using the netting for their nests. I will research the red color thing and see if that works but the white Tyvex suits seem to keep them off me…but I haven’t tested that theory!

      • sweetpea2love

        patsquared2, I’ve been stung years ago as a child by a wasp right on the edge of my ear lobe, and I can still remember the pain lasted for days. I think something about the sting in the cartilage of the ear made it worse. I’m not really sure, but now I’ve taken too looking at my lower garden beds (ground level) from the height of 7 feet on my deck. They have been really growing and that makes me nervous. I hope when the weather cools I can get to my scarlet runner beans and beets , etc..

        Take care from, Laura

      • Be careful…if you go out early in the morning – first light actually – the hornets and wasps are usually not even there let alone active. If they are there, they are frequently torpid…so you can move away from them safely. Just take a few breaths, relax and hit the garden at the literal crack of dawn!

      • sweetpea2love

        Thank you for your wise advice, I’ll be sure to follow carefully… Laura

  2. Thank goodness we don’t have this one in Australia (we have the European wasps, but they are very small and I think, much less aggressive than their bigger relatives, even when cornered.

    • Yeah but you guys have lots of biting, stinging, deadly insects, spiders and snakes…so I’ll take this one and be grateful!

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