Are Murder Hornets in Indiana?
Are Murder Hornets in Indiana?
Murder hornets are not native to Evansville, Indiana.
The term "murder" is actually a misnomer for a specific type of hornet known as Vespa Crabro. The term "Murder Hornet" is slang and the hornets are not actually a true hornet species, rather they belong to the wasp family.
The Vespa Crabro species is often mistaken for another species of hornet called Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa Mandarina). Both species of hornets have a very similar appearance and can be difficult to tell apart from one another.
The Asian Giant Hornet is an invasive species with confirmed sittings in isolated locations in North America (Washington State) over the past year, but has not yet been seen in Indiana.
So if what you saw was not a Asian Giant Hornet or murder hornet, then what was it?
We have two types of hornet located in Southern Indiana. The Bald faced hornet, and the Eastern European Hornet.
The Bald faced hornet
is more common due to its size, but still is relatively not that common.
These hornets are around 1.5 inches long with the queens reaching 2 inches in length. They are black, with white/yellow markings on the face.
The bald faced hornet builds paper like nests under roofs and overhangs, hanging out of any opening they can find. These nests get to be about the size of a basket ball.
These hornets build hanging paper nests that are shaped like a pine cone. They get very long in the fall when they have matured and will all be replaced in late winter for next year's queens, so if you see these in winter, do not worry.
The European Hornet
is the other species found in Southern Indiana, but they are even more rare than bald faced hornets and their nests look nothing like their bald faced cousins.
These hornets are a little more than 1 inch long and have orange/brown coloring with brown legs. They have a very noticeable yellow band around the abdomen as well as a smaller one on the first segment of the thorax, just above the neck.
European hornets will actually push other wasps, hornets, and bumblebees out of their nests as they begin to fill up. They also have a chemical defense that coats the legs on contact.
These hornets build paper nests that look like an upside down umbrella or a heart on its side. The first year queens will over winter in the ground meeting places before building a nest in early spring.
We also have another creature that gets confused with hornets from time to time. This would be the Cicada killer.
The Cicada killer
looks like a very large wasp with yellow/black coloring. They are about 1.5 inches long and appear to be very aggressive since they fly around with their stinger out.
These creatures can sting if threatened, but are not aggressive. If you startle them while digging around the ground, they will sting as a defense mechanism.
The cicada killer is actually a beneficial insect as it preys on the common cicada and helps to keep them under control.
Cicada killers dig shallow burrows next to each other after mating in early spring, with the exception of the newly emerged females that do not have a nest to protect. They make a very noticeable buzzing sound in flight, which is normal.
Asian Giant Hornets are not established in Indiana yet, but they have been found outside of their native range in recent years (eastern US).
If you have a question, or would like your home treated to help prevent these pests please call or text Yikes Pest Control.