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Hornets are technically omnivores, so they’re capable of eating a variety of things. This may seem like unnecessary information to deal with, but specifically knowing what hornets eat can tell you if your house is a likely candidate for an infestation, and it can also give you ideas on how you can get rid of them.
A hornet finishing its preying mantis meal. CC Image courtesy of Joe Carey on Wikipedia
Hornets are natural-born killers. They’re mostly known to be predatory creatures that eat other insects like caterpillars, bees, flies and beetles. They hunt by overpowering their prey with their giant mandibles and stingers that can be used multiple times. Also, their size makes it possible for them to take down even larger insects like the preying mantis.
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Meat or Carrion
Whether it’s from a piece of meat inside your trash bin or carrion from roadkill, hornets have also been spotted taking protein from these sources. They tear up the meat with their mandibles and fly over to their nest to feed their larvae with it.
So if you don’t want these bugs on your property, it’s best to clear out dead animals and put a lid on your trash.
Hornets are known to eat nectar from flowering plants like orchids. Just like bees, they hover over flowers and suck out its sweet nectar, even contributing to the cross-pollination of plants.
Sap is also a part of the hornet’s usual meal plan. You can often see them using their mandibles to scratch tree barks to get to the sap.
Even though hornets like insect and meat protein, they also have a taste for sweet things.
And what’s sweeter than candy itself? That’s right. Candy bars sometimes bait these bugs during camping activities and picnics, so watch out for these stinging insects when kids are eating candy outside.
Another human junkfood that hornets love is soda. This is probably because the beverage is chock-full of sugar, mimicking the insect’s other sweet diet staples like nectar and honey.
So when you’re opening drinks outside, keep it in a clear container. Hornets reportedly fall into soda cans when they’re left outside opened and unattended.
Speaking of honey, hornets have a complicated relationship with this particular food. They can go to extreme lengths and raid beehives for their honey supply, but they can also do the exact opposite when a honey trap is laid out and completely ignore it.
When hornets invade a beehive, the bee pupae aren’t killed. They are taken out and flown into their nest as food for their grubs.
Overripe fruits like apples, cranberries and peaches are magnets for hornets as well as other insects. Although it’s not really known why, hornets are often seen on top of fallen fruits rather than the fresh ones.
Vinegar and Sugar
Vinegar is not really part of a hornet’s diet. But it’s a popular bait.
When vinegar is mixed with sugar, the combination of the sweet and sour scents effectively attracts these insects. So you should consider using this when you’re planning on building a trap.
All in all, learning what hornets eat is important because of three reasons. One, it shows you if your property is a likely candidate for an infestation. Two, it tells you the specific places where hornets will most likely strike. For example, you’re possibly going to have plenty of these bugs in places where there’s an apple tree because it would be riddled with rotten apples. And lastly, knowing what hornets feed on gives you the perfect bait idea for hornet removal treatments. It’s the best arsenal for getting rid of these stinging creatures.
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