Hornets have a schedule that allows their kind to survive even during the harshest season of the of year. They follow a kind of cycle that, when learned, can be used against them. By learning when they build their homes, you can plan on the perfect moment to get rid of them.
So what do you need to know? When do hornets built their nests? Let’s find out.
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This is a young hornet queen that’s laying her first eggs in a new nest. CC Image courtesy of Oldobelix on Wikipedia
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Hornets build their nests during spring
New queens typically start making their nests during spring.
Right after winter ends, when the snow has already melted away and the temperature has climbed up significantly, young queens wake up from hibernation and start looking for places to build a colony.
These hornet queens almost never go back to their old nests. Instead, each of them looks for a place to build a new one from scratch. When a queen does find a good spot, she uses her large mandible to carve out wood or mud and mixes it with her saliva, making a papery moist substance. This ‘paste’ is then used as the foundation of a complicated structure that will hold thousands of hornets in the future.
Once the first hexagonal chambers are made, the queen then lays her eggs. And after 2-3 weeks, the nest will have the first few workers that will continue building the nest while the queen lays more eggs to increase the colony’s numbers. This goes on until late in the year.
Male hornets start to die during fall
When fall comes, male hornets are born and raised to do only one thing – to fertilize upcoming queens.
Note that almost all the members of the hornet colony are sterile females. These are the workers, and they do most of the grunt work like hunting, scavenging, fixing the nest and taking care of the larvae.
Meanwhile, for the fertile members of the colony, their only job is to produce the next generation of hornets. The male hornets, in particular, have a very short life span. Since they’re born to do only one thing, they die after “fertilizing” the new queens that have become old enough to mate.
Nests die during winter
When winter is right around the corner, the newly fertilized young queens take off and find secure places to hibernate. They slow down their metabolism and enter a sleep-like state which allows them to survive the cold.
The new queens are the only ones that can do this. So for the rest of the colony, they either abandon the nest and die in other places, or they hide inside it and succumb to the freezing temperatures.
And finally when winter ends and spring shows up again, the new queens do what the previous ones did. They build their own colonies, and the entire cycle starts all over again.
So when someone asks When do hornets build their nests? know these bugs have adapted to survive all the seasons of the year. But you do have a small window of opportunity during the cold season. Use this to hornet-proof your home and to get rid of places where hornets might nest. Our advice is to do repairs and inspections early in the fall.