Down but not out !

I watched this hornet being taken out by a guard hornet at the nest , I have no idea why whether it was an intruder I don’t know. Both fell to the floor one flew of and this one I put on a log out the damp grass thinking it had been stung and was dying but actually after about 10 minutes it started to come back around and eventually flew off.

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Nest of hornets (Lode)

I was lucky enough to find a hornets nest and got a couple of great shots, it started out as a disappointing insect foray due to the cold damp weather but finished in a high  when I found the nest.

The hornet’s life cycle is similar to that of the common wasp. Newly-mated queens hibernate during the winter, and emerge in spring to begin building a nest. They lay eggs that hatch into sterile female workers who take over nest building and collecting food for the developing larvae. Later in the summer males and fertile females hatch. These mate and the females become next year’s queens. The males, old queen and workers die in the autumn.

Hornets have an unwarranted fearsome reputation, but will only sting humans if attacked.

What does it eat?
Both adults and larvae eat mainly insects. Adults may also take spiders and queens may supplement their diet with tree sap and windfall fruit. They also stock up on nectar before hibernating.

When will I see it?
From May to September.RSPB

Identifying male and female Hornets

 

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Above a male hornet which has 13 segments to its antennae and 7 segments to their abdomen.

Below a female hornet which has 12 segments to her antennae and 6 segments to her abdomen.

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Males also don’t have a sting although I didn’t know that when I got the one to sit on my finger.

Ocelli

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European Hornet (Vespa crabro) head showing the three ocelli positioned between the two compound eyes.

Ocelli

Ocelli (singular Ocellus) are simple photo-receptors (light detecting organs). They consist of a single lens and several sensory cells. Unlike compound eyes, ocelli do not form a complex image of the environment but are used to detect movement. Most arthropods possess ocelli.


Taken on my bug hunt today, I have been searching all year for a hornets nest and now at the end of the season I found one. I saw Many hornets hunting up and down a hedgerow so I followed them in one direction and tried to see if they were heading home and luckily they were I found a nest in a old willow tree.

Vespa crabro – Hornet (Gamlingay-Gransden-Hayley Woods WTNR)

And finally I have got my own not to bad photos of Hornets , I have seen more today than in my last 40ish years.

It was great seeing them hunting taking butterflies, flies and honeybees, even attacking each other so guess they were from different colonies. I saw hornets in each of the three woodlands we saw.

Median wasp (Dolichovespula media)

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The second largest British social wasp species. D. media was first recorded in 1980 in Sussex, since when it has spread over all of England and Wales, and much of southern Scotland. It has a short life cycle, with nests finishing in August.

Nests are aerial and generally exposed, usually hanging from trees or bushes.

Key features
The workers generally resemble other yellow and black social wasps
almost black colour forms are often encountered with greatly reduced yellow banding on the abdomen.
All castes have yellow markings on the top and front-sides of the thorax which are said to resemble the NIKE logo, or when viewed from above look like two back-to-back, or mirrored, number 7’s.
Similar species
Queen median wasps are sometimes mistaken for hornets (Vespa crabro) due to sharing some red coloration, but hornets lack any yellow markings on the thorax. Hornets also lack the deep black coloration of the median wasp and other species of social wasp…..BWARS

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There Is some great  information on the fact sheet below

http://hymettus.org.uk/downloads/Info_sheets_2010/09_Dolichovespula_media_1col_infosheet.pdf

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I have posted before a Median wasp but it was unlike this one so it seems it was a male which are again different than a queen or worker. See post below

Male Median wasp