The giant Japanese hornet also known as the tiger hornet and the giant asian hornet, Vespa mandarinia, is one of the largest, most dangerous and most ferocious hornets in the world...a hornet from hell!

These hornets are also big, about the same size as an adults thumb and if you were attacked by a swarm of them, you would be in a life threatening situation.

It is a perfectly adapted killing machine, and killing other insects is something that it does very well.  The giant Japanese hornet is truly a giant, it has a body length of two inches and a wing span of three inches!

At first sight the giant Japanese hornet resembles a big wasp, except that it is more dangerous as most hornets are.  Even though there are a few images of these hornets sitting on peoples hands, they are not as docile as it appears.  If they get upset, then they can be just as paranoid as wasps and they will  attack.

Luckily they are only to be found high up in the mountains of Honshu, Japan and rarely do they ever explore outside this environment, if they did, people would be in danger.

Although stated that these hornets are basically indigenous to the mountains of Japan, they also inhabit certain areas of Eastern Asia's warm  and humid tropical areas.

The image below depicts the actual size (seen on a 19 inch monitor) that the largest ones can grow to, generally they are a little smaller, but this is what we are talking about...a true hornet from hell.

The giant Japanese hornet has a bright orange colored head, and its head is larger in proportion to the rest of its body, whereas other hornets have a smaller more proportionate head.

This giant hornet is also similar in appearance to a wasp, not forgetting that hornets are indeed a species of the wasp family.

The giant hornet produces quite a loud distinctive bass buzzing sound as it flies and can be heard from over twenty meters away.

Giant Japanese hornets prefer to hunt for food in packs, the way they do this is to send out a solo reconnaissance hornet to seek out and mark their prey with a pheromone scent, this scent then attracts the whole host of other hornets, who then home in and attack the quarry.

The hornets will sting their quarry and also bite with their very powerful mandible until there is no more signs of life in the victim.

Bees, wasps, other species of hornet, stick insects and the powerful praying mantis are all easily slaughtered by the giant Japanese hornet.

The YouTube  video below shows how these hornets attack and kill Japans recently introduced European bees.  In this video about thirty Giant Japanese hornets totally decimate a colony of thirty thousand European bees in just a few hours, mainly by biting their heads off in rapid succession!

Only when every last bee has been killed do the hornets then steal the honey and also utilize the bees larvae as food for their young.


We can see nature as being very cruel, the Hornet on the other hand, sees it as survival.  The sting from this giant hornet is quite nasty, and a sting from its relatively huge six millimeters long, very sharp, barbless and reusable stinger can severely damage a persons tissue in quite a large area.

The venom contains a strong acid enzyme that will dissolve organic matter and will even cause the breakdown of bone.

It has been recorded that as many as forty unfortunate people die from these hornets stings each year, children  and those susceptible  to anaphylactic  shock  being the common cases of death.

Many who have survived the sting, describe the pain as absolutely intolerable, " if red hot nails are being driven through the flesh..."  and a local aesthetic needs to be quickly administered by a doctor.

If a swarm of hornets attack you, then they will keep on and on, relentlessly.  They don't  and won't go away, people have thrown themselves into lakes to get away from them when attacked, and guess what...the hornets will fly over the water and wait for you to surface!

It would be best to lie face down on the ground and not to move, not to flap your arms about but just to lie still.  Playing dead might sound a bit naive, but it is natures way of defence.  If you do get stung then you will be in a private hell, with a lot of pain for a lot of time.

In worst case scenarios, if indeed an anti-venom is not administered within a few minutes then the victim of the sting can die, regardless of age or health.  The giant Japanese hornet is after all quite a big insect and consequently has quite a big sting in its tail!

It is not all doom  and  gloom  with this   Hornet  though,  as the Japanese have harvested  the hornets  stomach enzymes into a synthetic  sports  drink that  is  said  to revitalize and strengthen -albeit- temporarily, anyone, specially athletes who drink it.

The hornet is skewered on a needle and its fluids slowly saturates into pure honey, it is thought that the stamina in which the Hornet has, can be passed onto people as well.




Page created March 29th 2009.       Updated November 23rd 2012.