The hornet or horse wasp (Vespa crabro) is a fleece-winged insect in the family of plover wing wasps (Vespidae). The hornet belongs to the real wasps or paper wasps (Vespinae) and is one of the better known types of wasps in Europe. The species also occurs in parts of Asia and is man-made in North America.
The hornet can grow to 3.5 centimeters long and is thus the largest wasp-like in Belgium and the Netherlands. The species does not occur in large numbers, but is, apart from the coastal region and Friesland and Groningen, again not a rarity. The hornet is more than twice as large as most other wasps such as those from the genus Vespula. Despite the impressive body size and the loud buzz, the horn is significantly less aggressive than other wasps.
The sting of the hornet is more painful than the sting of a honey bee, but the poison is less powerful. Hornets use the poison to kill insects which they then grind with the jaws into a paste and feed to the larvae. The larvae in turn release a sweet liquid to the workers who use the sugars as fuel to fly and thus catch even more insects.
The nest is made from cellulose fibers that are gnawed from trees. The nest is spherical and consists of several combs. Unlike the distantly related honey bee, no honey is present in the nest of the hornet.