It’s a well-known fact that hornets don’t mix well with winter. But do they hibernate? And if they do, where do hornets hibernate? Do they have other means that keep them alive through the harshest season of the year? Here’s what you should know.
Almost all hornets die during winter. The only survivors are the new queens.
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Only new queens hibernate
Let’s get right to the point. Not all hornets hibernate.
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In fact, nearly all of them don’t actually have the ability to hibernate. The only ones that can do it are the new queens, insects that are supposed fly off and start colonies of their own.
When winter is right around the corner, the young queens mature. Male drones then fertilize them to produce the next generation of hornets. But they don’t lay the eggs right away. Instead, they fly away to find secure spots outside, sensing that the temperature is dropping and the nest is reaching its end. After this, they “sleep” until spring.
So where do the queens hibernate?
Budding queens are virtually never seen together when they hibernate. But since they’re carrying eggs with them, they’re hardwired to look for the safest places to hibernate. Here are where they’re most likely to end up in.
Under wood barks
Sometimes, you can find young hornet queens inside trees. These tree holes are either natural or created and abandoned by other larger animals like raccoons and squirrels.
In a rotten stump
If hornet queens can’t use a live tree, they can also use rotten stumps. They’ll pick any place as long as they can survive in it.
Inside rodent burrows
Going underground is ideal for the snowy season. The dirt provides ample insulation that helps stop the queens from freezing. Rodent burrows and other holes can also protect them from blizzards and strong winds.
Sometimes, when it comes to hiding places, there’s nothing more secure than man-made structures. That’s because they’re well-maintained and specifically made to stand against the elements.
Barns, in particular, are common hosts for all kinds of creatures like roaches, mice and now, hornets.
Aside from barns, there are also sheds that provide plenty of hiding places for sleeping hornet queens.
These hornets can also find refuge between rock formations. Huge rocks are sturdy and can withstand tough weather conditions. Inching through tightly pressed ones gives these bugs enough space to hibernate peacefully.
Inside wall cracks and crevices
For hornets, walls aren’t only good for setting up nests. They’re also ideal for hibernation. Preexisting cracks and holes give them the best place to sleep for the rest of winter.
Inside the house
It could be the attic, the garage or some part of the house that’s rarely used. A queen hornet can sometimes sneak in and sleep in silence, and you won’t notice her until spring comes.
Generally, queens generally don’t harm anyone, but they do carry a whole colony’s worth of hornets with them. By getting rid of these insects, you could stop an entire nest from spawning and causing problems in the future.
So the next time someone asks where do hornets hibernate? Point out that there’s only one hornet to watch out for, the queen.