Do hornets live in the ground? Yes.
Hornets are a species of wasps that are social and prefer to live in undisturbed areas.
Oftentimes, they’re confused with their close cousins, yellowjackets due to the similarities between them. Due to their cravings for a variety of insects, hornets can easily be categorized among nature’s pest controllers.
Ground Burrowing Hornets
In this article, we take a look at hornet habitats with a specific focus on those that live in the ground. How do hornets live in the ground?
Do they build their own nests or are opportunists that takeover already established nesting sites of other creatures? What do such nests look like?
These and more have been covered in detail.
Signs Of Underground Hornets
Depending on the type of hornets you’re dealing with, nests can be found in areas such as the garage, attic, tree trunks, sheds, ground, and under your roof.
However, since we’re talking about hornets that live in the ground, your focus will have to be around your grounds and no place else.
Tell-tale signs of ground-nesting hornets’ presence include sizeable holes, as well as horseshoe-like piles of dirt mostly found around sunny areas.
When it comes to the sizeable holes used by hornets as nesting sites, these tunnels or holes measure roughly an inch and a half in diameter.
These may be isolated or crowded closely. Apart from this sign, another way to distinguish holes dug by hornets are piles of dirt found around the holes. These usually take the shape of a horseshoe.
These signs coupled with hornet presence around your home are confirmation of an infestation.
Ground Dwelling Hornets
By now, it’s obvious that not every hornet species live in the ground. While some don’t, others do, and we’re most interested in ground-dwelling hornets.
These hornet species have well-adapted features that make it possible for them to live below ground. They include cicada killers and digger wasps.
As evidenced by the two ground-dwelling hornets mentioned, it’s clear that there aren’t many hornet species that live in the ground. While that is true, future discoveries might lead to the inclusion of more hornet species.
Hornets That Live in the Ground
With that said, let’s focus on discussing the two mentioned.
i. Cicada Killer
These are mostly large wasps that measure approximately 2 inches in length.
Their transparent brownish wings and black or brown coloration create easily identifiable features. Cicada killer wasps have colorful yellow markings on multiple segments of their abdomen.
While mostly considered minor pests, cicada killers will sting when disturbed. Their presence is most visible in the burrows created in lawns and other suitable areas such as vegetable gardens or flower beds.
These areas have loose soil which makes it easier for cicada killer hornets to build their nests.
Nesting Behavior may become Problematic for Homeowners
The nesting behavior of this species of hornets creates concerns for homeowners. A clear example is seen when several pounds of soil is displaced, thus making your surroundings unsightly.
There’s also the possibility of damage caused which is most evident when brick patios are laid on sand.
For damage caused by cicada killer hornets’ nesting behavior in gardens, a disruption of normal plant growth may result. How does this happen? These hornets may target the base of plants to burrow through.
Here, it’s obvious that the root system will be affected, thus adversely impacting the plant.
Do Cicada Killers Have a Soil Preference?
To better understand the burrowing action of cicada killer hornets, it’s necessary to take a look at their preferred soil type.
Soils most preferred for burrowing through by these hornet species are well-drained and light-textured soils. Suitable nesting sites are usually around areas with full sunlight exposure.
More on Cicada Killer Hornet Burrows in Ground
It’s mostly common to find hornets around sparsely vegetated slopes, edges of concrete slabs, and sandy areas around playground equipment.
Golf course sand traps and lawns are other areas where these hornets may nest. Now, the burrows created by cicada hornets go about a foot deep.
Contrary to what most people will assume, hornets, including cicada killers do not defend their burrows. Also, burrows are specifically designed to lay eggs for the next generation.
When these hornets go in search of prey (cicadas), they sting and paralyze them.
The prey is taken back to the burrow and placed in the chambers created. Now, eggs are laid on each cicada which later hatches into larvae.
These larvae bore into the cicada and feed on them.
ii. Digger Wasps
As their name suggests, digger wasps have excellent burrowing skills. Like cicada killer hornets, digger wasps aren’t aggressive even though the females have stingers.
These low-flying hornets seek out suitable nesting areas while also foraging for food. They target larvae and grubs as food.
Digger wasps can be identified by their blue-black or black and golden colors. First off, these prefer open areas for nesting purposes. Also, sandy soils are the most preferred for nesting.
The burrows measure around six inches into the ground and are holding places for prey such as cicadas, grubs, and larvae.
They mate and lay their eggs which later on hatch into larvae that burrow into the prey provided to serve as food.
The large size of digger wasps makes them intimidating however they’re hardly aggressive until when disturbed. You’ll mostly find these hornets around flowers due to the presence of nectar which they feed on.
Are Ground-Dwelling Hornets Dangerous?
Despite their scary look, ground-dwelling hornets are most beneficial.
While helping to pollinate plants, they’re also natural pest controllers as they prey on a number of destructive bugs. What more?
Hornets don’t readily attack or sting humans but go about their business.
How Problematic can Hornets Become?
Pest situations vary by the level of infestation and the type of problem(s) posed.
For the most part, hornets that live in the ground can be tolerated. However, there are times when the burrows created can make your lawns, gardens, and flower beds messy.
Because this mostly occurs around areas with loose soils, the solution can be quite simple. Drenching the soil with water keeps them off.
We’ve identified hornet species that live in the ground as well as found out the reasons why. There are simple ways of resolving problems caused by their activity.