The hornet is the largest of the wasp species although in appearance it is very similar to a standard yellow-jacket wasp. The biggest hornets can reach an impressive 2.2 inches, (5.5cm) in length.
The most commonly found one is the European hornet, although sightings of the Asian hornet have been noted in recent years. The Asian hornet is considered more dangerous than the European one.
The main concern with hornets is the sting. It is significantly more powerful than a standard wasp and is considered more dangerous than a bee sting. The fact that hornets tend to be more aggressive, particularly when guarding their nests, makes it even more important that you find out more info about them and how to deal with them.
The best course of action is to contact your local pest control experts and let them deal with the nest.
Reacting To A Hornet Sting
The sting will be painful, simply because the stinger is bigger than that of a standard wasp or even a bee. Note, a hornet can sting repeatedly.
If you’re not allergic to their sting then you’ll feel the pain and start noticing the sting area becoming red. It is likely to be very itchy as the venom soaks into your body. It will probably swell a little. The pain will subside relatively quickly but the redness and itching will last approximately 24 hours. After that, the puncture hole will close up.
However, if you are allergic then you are likely to have a systemic reaction. This means the swelling will be much more severe, as will the pain. Depending on where you have been stung you may experience complications. For example, being stung on your neck could result in swelling which constricts your airways, making it difficult for you to breathe.
Systemic reactions only occur in approximately 3% of hornet stings but cause as many as 100 deaths a year! This type of reaction involves the occurrence of a rash, normally away from the sting. If your allergy is serious you’ll experience breathing difficulties, regardless of where you were stung.
In this instance, you’ll need emergency medical aid. This is why many people who have a bee/wasp allergy carry an EpiPen, it can literally save their life.
Assuming you’re no longer being attacked by the hornet the first thing you should do is check the area. A hornet shouldn’t leave it’s stings behind but, if it is there, you’ll need to carefully remove it. Avoid squeezing the sting as this will push more venom into your body.
The easiest way to remove a sting is with the corner of a credit card, allowing you to push it out of your body.
You can then put ice or a cool compress on the area. This will reduce blood flow, reducing the ability of the venom to travel. It can also reduce any swelling before it starts.
You’ll then want to add anti-histamine to the affected area, this will help to reduce the itching and allow it to heal.
Of course, the best advice is to avoid getting stung in the first place, but this isn’t always possible.