Asian Giant Hornet
Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org
  • This insect has not been found in Virginia or in the U.S. outside of Washington state. 
  • Vespa mandarinia has no approved common name in the U.S. yet. 
  • Hornet is about 2 inches (5.08 cm) long
  • Range is currently China, Japan, SE Asia, isolated unconfirmed reports in Russia, and India/Pakistan
  • Fall of 2019 a nest was found in Nanaimo on Vancouver, BC, Canada.   It was destroyed in Sept. 2019.  No adults subsequently found in BC. 
  • Later in the fall (November) a single hornet was seen less than 10 miles away in Canada.
  • In the winter, less then 40 miles from the nest, 1 dead hornet worker was found in WA in 2019.  
  • Dead hornet found in WA seems to be from a local nest or less-likely blown in by prevailing pacific winds/fronts. 
  • This species when established can be a major problem for beekeepers, as it takes advantage of hives by attacking them in the spring and fall when they are more vulnerable. In the spring it grabs individual worker bees, and in the fall it attacks a hive in mass, killing the worker bees and then attacking the bee brood to use as a food source.
  • For more information check out this presentation from the Washington State Department of Agriculture. 

Asian Giant Hornet 

Vespa mandarinia

Asian giant hornet

Asian Giant Hornet
Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

European Hornet

Vespa crabro

European Hornet New
Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org
  • European hornet is a large hornet typically 1 inch (2.54cm) long. Smaller than the Asian giant hornet, and it's head is not as large. 
  • Generalist predator, does not pose a major threat to honeybees. 
  • This species occurs in Virginia and can be easily mistaken for the Asian giant hornet.
  • For more information check out our Extension fact sheet on the European Hornet found here

Asian Giant Hornet 

Vespa mandarinia

Asian Giant Hornet
Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Asian Hornet/Yellow-legged Hornet

Vespa velutina

Asian Hornet
Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org
  • Much smaller than V. mandarinia
  • Native to northern India and China, discovered in France in 2004.
  • Feeds primarily on domestic honeybee, major problem for beekeepers in Europe and Asia, spreads rapidly.
  • Not known to be found in North America

Asian Giant Hornet 

Vespa mandarinia

Asian Giant Hornet
Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Cicada Killer

Sphecius speciosus

Cicada Killer
Jim Occi, BugPics, Bugwood.org
  • Nearly as large as V. mandarinia, is difficult to get it to sting you.
  • Not even in the same insect family as V. mandarinia.
  • Specialized to hunt cicadas, though does not appear to utilize periodical cicada as well as it does the annual cicada. 
  • Common throughout the U.S. especially in southeastern U.S. It occurs in Virginia and could be mistaken for the Asian giant hornet. 

Asian Giant Hornet 

Vespa mandarinia

Asian Giant Hornet
Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Baldfaced Hornet

 Dolichovespula maculata

Baldfaced Hornet
Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.org
  • Smaller than V. mandarinia about 1 inch (2.54cm) in length. 
  • Most prominent difference is it's size and color though could still potentially be mistaken for V. mandarinia
  • These hornets are generalist predators that feed apon flies and caterpillars. 
  • Found in many parts of the U.S. especially in the east. This hornet is common in Virginia. 
  • For more information check out our Extension fact sheet on the baldfaced Hornet found here
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  • As always, we are interested in any invasive species. The spotted wing drosophila, spotted lanternfly, and Asian longhorned tick are examples of species that citizens can help us keep track of and be on the lookout for. 
  • We do NOT expect to see Vespa mandarinia in the foreseeable future as a result of the isolated finds in the Pacific Northwest.
  • If you think you see anything unusual, take a quality photograph and send it to your local Extension office. If you can safely collect the specimen in tact, do so, and mail it to your county Extension office.
  • For a list of local Extension Offices in your area, see https://ext.vt.edu/offices.html
  • USDA APHIS PPQ plays a major role in intercepting potential pests at the border from shipments from overseas.   Frankly, it is amazing all organisms haven’t already been spread globally given the volume of trade.
  • Invasive species remain a priority for State Departments of Agriculture (VDACS), Cooperative Extension in every state, as well as federal and university research scientists.

Find your Virginia Cooperative Extension local office here