Greater Banded Hornet

One evening, while playing with my daughter outside our house, she noticed something big come buzzing around.

She started pulling me and said, ’ It’s a bee, let’s get inside ……. '

I tried correcting her saying ’ That is not a bee, it’s a Hornet, a Greater Banded Hornet, see how much bigger it is when compared to a bee… '

She cut me short and said, ’ I don’t care…., just tell me, does it sting….? '

I said, ’ Yes, may be… '

She said, ’ Then let’s get inside…….. '

That was just about the conversation we had…, so much for attempting to be a self styled Naturalist at home… :-)

I, however, was too curious to let it go. I had seen it a couple of times, hovering around the ceiling and walls’ edges, outside our house. It was definitely looking for something and it surely wasn’t us.

It was a hornet, known as the ‘Greater Banded Hornet’ ( Vespa Tropica ). Hornets are the medium to large sized wasps that constitute the Genus, ‘Vespa’. They are very efficient predators unlike bees, which feed mostly on nectar and are very efficient pollinators. Hornets also have a reputation for being very aggressive. However, they are generally considered beneficial, as they seem to hunt down a lot of pest insects and aid in keeping their numbers under control.

This individual that was visiting our house, the Greater Banded Hornet ( Vespa Tropica ) is more specialized and has a fascination for paper wasp eggs and larvae.

That was exactly, what it was searching for, a paper wasp nest.

It found one, high up on the ceiling outside our house and got down to its business. Started scouring each cell of the neatly built paper wasp nest, looking for eggs and larvae.


The ones in which it found, it just plucked them out and started feeding on them. The paper wasps were pretty helpless. It was a David and Goliath kind of a scenario. However, unlike the original story, things were quite different here.The paper wasps didn’t stand a chance against the much bigger and powerful predator.


They were giving it their all in trying to protect their brood, by constantly flying around trying to distract the hornet.


They also took turns in trying to sting the hornet but to no avail. The hornet was not to be disturbed or distracted in any way.


The hornet left only after it had taken its time and the paper wasps had to resort to being mere spectators.

Such is the way of Nature. Call it natural selection or survival of the fittest, this whole episode, though very sad from the perspective of the paper wasps, how it is placed in the overall scheme of things I wouldn’t know.


These excellent photographs helped me to identify the same creature at home this morning. I was outside and I noticed an unusually large flying insect, he was just flying in and around under an outside patio type roof. He made it difficult not to notice. Some minutes later I noticed the flying insect, which I have now identified as The Greater Banded Hornet, it was on the concrete pavement, walking backwards with a Huntsman spider in it’s jaws, the spider seemed lifeless, and the Hornet dragged the spider about twenty five metres along the pavement then pulled it up two courses of bricks and into the garden where he just left the spider, presumably for future food.
Reply to William
Thanks a lot William and that is one interesting observation. These hornets are indeed powerful hunters. The spider is probably food for its future young larvae. This is also one of the reasons why these insects store food.
Reply to Santhosh

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