Yellow Jacket Vs Hornet; Facts, Differences and Comparison

The yellow jacket vs the hornet has been one of the many questions of the minds of various researchers such as you reading this article. It is good to know which is greater on the basis of strength, speed, agility, etc.

Life is all about competitions and struggles to determine who is the best, who is the greatest, and who is at the top! We’ll be digging deep into two of the greatest giants in the insect world, the yellow Jacket vs the hornet and these two will be dragging it all out in this information-filled article.

So sit back, relax and get ready to grab this knowledge!!!


Read also: Bumblebees vs Honey Bees; Facts, Differences, and Comparison


Facts About Yellow Jacket

What is a Yellow Jacket

Yellow Jacket Vs Hornet
Yellow Jacket

A yellow jacket is a yellow-black or white-black wasp of the genus Vespula commonly found in North-America. These pests can easily be identified by their characteristic markings, their ability to be over aggressive and territorial, their side-to-side flight pattern prior to landing and the distinctive feature of females given the ability to sting whenever they feel threatened. The yellow jacket is an important predator of insect pests.

A yellow jacket is about 15mm-19mm in length and is different in various ways from bees as they are mistakenly called by many, maybe you reading this article is part of these “many”, who knows? well, read on to clear these doubts.



Truth be told the yellow jacket are similar in length and body-color with the bees, but unlike the bees:

  1. Yellowjackets have yellow or white markings.
  2. Are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies.
  3. Do not have flat, hairy hind legs used to carry it.
  4. Do not carry pollen.

Yellowjackets have lance-like (a pole weapon designed to be used by a mounted warrior or soldier) stingers with small barbs(a sharp projection near the end of an arrow) and are known to sting repeatedly. The stinger of a yellow jacket becomes flattened and pulls out of the wasp’s body, kinda sad right? well seems kinda good for human beings right. The yellow jacket is very venomous but luckily not to all humans but those who are allergic to its sting.

Its mouthpart is well-developed with strong mandibles for capturing and chewing insects. Yes, it eats other insects! creepy right?? these insects include the ants, spiders, flies, caterpillars, etc. they are also occupied with a proboscis for sucking nectar from flowers and for sucking fruits. The yellow jackets also inhabit themselves by building nests in trees, shrubs, and even inside man-made structures houses, soil cavities, mouse burrows, etc. These nests are built from wood fiber and are chewed into a paper-like pulp.

Yellow Jackets Feeding

Adult yellow jackets feed mainly on carbohydrate sources such as fruit and plant nectar. While flying side-to-side from plant to plant to collect food, the yellow jackets assist plants with pollination(they are agents of pollination, but doesn’t mean they carry pollen). When the time comes to care for the larvae during the spring period, adult yellow jackets feed on a food source that is higher in protein, these food sources include insects like flies, caterpillars, other insects’ larvae and dead corpse. The yellow jackets stick their long tongues into the food source to collect sugar.

As the nest grows, or when food supplies become scarce in the fall, the adult yellow jackets become more aggressive in finding meals and will often interfere with humans or enter beehives to steal honey.


Fact About Hornet

  • What is a Hornet
Yellow Jacket Vs Hornet
A Hornet

A hornet belongs to the genus Vespa commonly found in tropical Asia, but are also found in Europe, Africa, and North America. They can easily be identified by their distinctive markings of yellow and black (only), their ability to leave special scents on beehives for other hornets to track and their large sizes.

It is about 1.25 inches in length and has a sharply pointed stinger that contains about 5% poisonous substance that could be very venomous to humans when stung as they sting repeatedly just like their relatives, the yellow jacket.

They construct hives by chewing wood into a paper-like pulp. The queens dominate the hives and play the most important role there is, Reproduction! Other hornets are asexual female workers that perform the duties of building the hive, gathering food, feeding the young, and protecting the colony.

Males are few and have only one main role which is mating with the queen. Sadly, males die soon after their sexual task is complete as they release a great number of spermatozoa. Pitiful, but its the law of nature!

Having these guys build hives in your home will help eliminate bees, flies and other large insects.

Workers protect their hive from the threat with their stingers. Unlike the yellow jackets, these insects do not sting humans unless provoked, some people are allergic to their venom and can have very dangerous reactions when stung. Hornets are considered pests as they will defend a nest aggressively if they feel it is threatened.

Read also: Green Bottle Fly: All You Need To Know About Green Bottle Fly


Life Cycle of a Hornet

During winter the nest is abandoned and only new, young queens together with their eggs survive the season by finding protected areas to dwell in. The new queen will begin a new nest, and soon her young will become workers and take over the chores of the new hive (building the hive, gathering food, feeding the young, and protecting the colony) leaving the queen with the duty of reproduction. She carries out the duty of producing more workers to expand the hive and then before dying yields a reproductive generation of new queens and males to restart the cycle of life.

Tree Sap
Hornet Feeding on Tree Sap

Yellow Jacket Vs Hornet Differences

Hey, the viewer if you’ve really followed this article you should be able to differentiate between the yellow jacket and the hornet. But just in case!

Yellow Jacket

  • Length

The yellow jacket has a length of about 15mm to 19mm while the hornet is 1.25 inches which means it is a little bigger than the yellow jacket.

  • Color

The hornet has a specific color of yellow/reddish-brown and black while the yellow jacket is either yellow and black or white and black.

  • Region

The yellow jacket is commonly found in North-America while the hornet is commonly found in Tropical Asia.

  • Sting

The sting of a hornet hurts more and is more venomous than that of a yellow jacket.

  • Stinger

Unfortunately, the stinger of a yellow jacket flattens and therefore pulls out while the stinger of a hornet remains attached to the body of the hornet.

  • Aggressiveness

A yellow jacket is more aggressive than a hornet as it stings whenever it feels its nest is being threatened.

  • Size

A yellow jacket is slightly bigger than a housefly while a hornet is the size of an office pin.

  • Nest

Hornet’s nest above the ground while yellow jackets rarely nest above the ground.

  • Yellowjackets die after stinging while hornets do not die and rarely sting.

Yellow Jacket vs Hornet Comparison

  • They both feed on insects.
  • They attack whenever they feel threatened.
  • They both construct their hives from wood.
  • They both sting repeatedly.


As it is said, a journey must surely come to an end so it is in this case. We’ve been able to list down the similarities between these two and the differences between these two. The yellow jacket vs the Hornet! who is greater, that’s a question for you the viewer to answer.

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