What's the Difference Between a Wasp & a Hornet?

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A hornet is a wasp, but not all wasps are hornets. Learn about hornets, and the fact that they're a type of wasp that isn't native to North America, with information from a biology teacher in this free video on insects.

Part of the Video Series: Wasp, Hornets, & Bees
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Video Transcript

Did you know that insects are the most common type of animal that exists on the planet? They make up about 75% of the animal kingdom. There is close to 300,000 species of insects. One of the species that you might actually be familiar with is a wasp. Some people also talk about having hornet nests. Well I'm Janice Creneti and I'm here to talk to you about what's the difference between a wasp and a hornet? Well actually there is a short version and there is a long version. The short version is that a hornet is a wasp. So all hornets are wasps but not all wasps are hornets. Here is the longer version. You see hornets are a type of wasp that are not native to North America. Now we have had some come over as nonnative species but they don't technically belong here. When you are trying to identify any species of wasps there are a few things that you can look at. You can look at the shape of their body, you'll notice that these two have very different shapes. Sometimes you'll see longer abdomens. You'll see skinnier bodies or fatter bodies depending on where the animals made their nests, whether it is under the ground, whether it is in a dead tree or whether they make them out of paper like the paper wasps do. Those are the big giant nests that you tend to see hopefully not under your roof but sometimes on trees out in nature. So there is a couple of things that they both have in common. They both tend to have two sets of wings. Some species are actually able to fold their wing over their back like you can see this one here doing and some species aren't able to do that. You can look at coloration, you can look at the shape of their head. You can even look at the type of mouth parts that they have to identify what different species you are dealing with. You need a magnifying glass and a field guide though to get that specific. The thing to remember is that hornets are wasps. I'm Janice Creneti and this is what's the difference between a wasp and a hornet.


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