The Shershni genus is a member of the family The real wasps, and therefore these insects are rightfully considered the closest relatives of ordinary wasps, called in paper for their habit of building nests from the young bark of trees chewed and mixed with saliva. Hornets in their way of life, reproduction and method of feeding differ little from ordinary wasps, but, nevertheless, they have some unique features of biology.
Hornets are practically the largest wasps. Only some scolias and road wasps can compete with these insects in body length. Nevertheless, thanks to their constitution, hornets can still be considered the most massive representatives of the family of wasps.
As a rule, hornets live in any biotopes and are in no way connected with human settlements and agricultural lands. The hornet eats different foods, but in general these canes can be described as predators. The basis of their diet and fodder for brood are other insects, which hornets are caught in large quantities in the territories around their nest.
Accordingly, where the hornet lives, the bee colonies can not feel safe. That is why for beekeepers these insects are a real disaster.
However, despite all of the above, with regular detection of large wasps with a red head on their site, it is first necessary to understand what the hornets eat where they live, and then decide on the fight against these insects.
Where do the hornets live
To date, science knows 23 kinds of hornet. These insects can be found in many parts of the globe, but most species are common in the Northern Hemisphere. Let us dwell in more detail on the most prominent representatives:
- Nearly all hornets that are found on the territory of Russia belong to the European Hornet. Representatives of this species are most similar to ordinary wasps, but at the same time can boast of larger body sizes.
- For Asia, southern Europe, North Africa, and also the Asian part of Russia, the species Eastern Hornet is common. This insect has a more original coloration with a completely brown body and a wide single band on the abdomen.
- Among the numerous species of hornets, there is one endemic. Only in the Philippines can you meet this deadly danger to humans insect. The poison of the hornets of this species is so toxic that it takes practically the first place among all the poisonous insects.
European hornets live in forests, groves, in separate thickets of bushes and in areas occupied by agriculture. The only thing that limits their area is the cold climate in the north and dry biotopes in the south.
Eastern hornets live in other habitats and prefer steppes, semi-deserts, which sometimes go to deserts, dry ravines and gullies. The eastern hornet is practically the only species that can live in a dry climate.
Hornets live in families built in their nests. Their dwellings look the same as those of ordinary wasps. The hornet's nest is a round-shaped building made of paper honeycombs, suspended on tree branches or placed in hollows, crevices, various economic buildings of man, and sometimes even in distribution or mailboxes.
It is interesting
Hornets can cause serious damage to young trees, literally gnawing their upper shoots when collecting bark to build their nest. Particularly affected by hornets ash planting - with an abundance of insects, the tops of trees can be completely gnawed, because of which growth stops or the crown is formed incorrectly.
The location of the future nest is determined by the female founder. She hibernates in any secluded hideaway, and in the spring either directly in it or in a specially found other place lays several eggs and feeds the wasps that are taken from them. After the birth of young hornets, they themselves are building a large nest and taking care of the new brood.
On a note
Hornets are very fond of building nests in toilets, sheds, under the roofs of verandas and summer kitchens. The reason for this is simple - there is no direct sunlight and drafts, usually quite quietly and calmly. Sometimes nests of hornets were found in vehicles that had not been operated for long, inside concrete lighting columns, in chimneys.
Residents of megacities generally meet with these insects much less often than in rural areas. If you understand that eating hornet, it becomes clear why - in a built-up high-rise buildings, even a relatively small nest can not always be provided with the right amount of food.
Nutrition of the largest wasps
The basis of the ration of hornets are other insects, spiders, worms, centipedes and slugs. Their hornet eats in the nest, carefully cutting and eating the fattest parts. Most of the captured insects are fed to their larvae - at this stage of the life cycle, the wasps are obligate predators, i.e. feed exclusively on animal food.
At the same time, adult hornets eat the juice of berries (especially they are not indifferent to blackberries, raspberries and strawberries), sweet soft fruits such as peaches and plums, honey, syrup, aphid, meat and fish. Virtually any strong natural smells of lost products attract them. Dacha residents should consider this fact and try not to allow such potential food to appear on their site, because even the most common rotting apple can serve as a wonderful hornet for the hornet.
A real find for a colony of hornets is the family of honey bees. Not only that the bees themselves are very tasty for hornets, and the wasps prey on them, chasing sometimes at a distance of up to 5 km, so also the contents of the bee dwellings is an equally valuable food resource.
In the looted hive, the hornet eats honey and larvae - this is a sufficient source of food for the horny family for the entire season. Not surprisingly, there is a constant war between hornets and beekeepers.
It is interesting
The giant Asian hornet, reaching a length of 5 cm, can kill up to 40 bees per minute. A detachment of hornets, numbering only 30-40 individuals, can destroy all thousands of bee colonies in a few hours.
An interesting feature of hornets is that when extracting insects they do not use sting, as, for example, ordinary wasps do, but they kill their victims with powerful jaws. The poison hornet is allowed into the matter only for self-defense.
And yet, in spite of all the troubles that close proximity to the hornet can bring, it is necessary to begin to understand how much the nest that appeared on the cottage area hinders. Hornets - insects are not aggressive, and if you do not climb into the nest yourself, they will not sting a person. But the hornets are quite capable of destroying a fair amount of pests in the garden.
The life of a nutshell
The nest of hornets at different stages of construction may look different. In the beginning it looks like a pear. Later, the "pear" appears lampshade, and it becomes like a chandelier.
At the next stage of construction, the "lampshade" is lengthened, and the lower edges of it close, again forming a "pear", but already much larger. At all stages of construction, honeycombs and chambers are visible in the nest, where larvae grow.
Adult hornets spend in the nest only at night, and also rest a little here between raids for food or building material. In addition to hornets workers there are several wasps in the nest, which only deal with cleaning honeycombs and caring for the larvae, but their minority.
An important point in the life of the nest is that under it constantly accumulates a large number of remains of the victims of hornets and the dead wasps. In this organic rubbish settling beetles, mites and various parasites, which at the end of the existence of the nest are taken into the honeycomb and hit the family. In many cases, the nest dies precisely under the pressure of parasitic ticks.
It is interesting
In the nests of hornets almost permanently live staphylin beetles and their larvae. They eat the remains of the hornet meal, the larvae of their "neighbors" and various waste nests. Regardless of the hornet, these beetles can not live.
How do the hornets breed?
Hornets reproduce in about the same way as other public Hymenoptera.
Mating of hornets occurs at the end of the warm season of the year - in the middle latitudes this is August-September. By this time the family has become quite numerous, and the nest can reach 70 cm in diameter and 1 m in length.
At some point, the uterus begins to lay eggs, from which already mated and mating females (all working hornets - females unable to reproduce) are removed.
When the number of sexually mature individuals in the nest becomes very large, they fly out, swarm and mate.
After mating, the males die within a few days. The females never again return to their native nest, but look for a secluded place for shelter in which they will wait for spring and give birth to a new family.
Working hornets do not last long - about 3-4 weeks. However, many of them die much earlier when meeting with other predators, being eaten by birds or at the hands of humans.
The life expectancy of the horny uterus is approximately one year. She usually dies before the second winter in her life, when young females from her family leave the nest.
Male males have the shortest life expectancy. They live from a few days to several weeks - depending on how long before the swarming they appeared.
Wintering: who from the family is going through it?
As mentioned above, hornets hibernate in secluded shelters: the dwellings of other insects, crevices, hollows, cracks in rocks, under rocks, in rural toilets between planks.
Having dealt with the peculiarities of the breeding of hornets, it can be concluded that only the young females winter out of the whole family, ready to start a new family at the beginning of next year. Old females almost always die before their second winter, just as do males and hornets workers.
It is quite obvious that hornets, living next to human habitation, can not be considered unambiguously harmful or dangerous insects. They regret rarely, and in general are calm, and at times even useful neighbors, because in our gardens hornets eat various pests. Only for beekeepers, these insects are unequivocal enemies.
It should also be noted that because of the unnecessarily frequent, useless destruction of nests in many regions of our country, hornets have become rare, in some cases even inscribed in the Red Book. Therefore, if the nest of hornets is located so that no one particularly hinders, it should be left alone.