Hornet Anatomy

body of a hornet
A hornet's body is made of three parts such as the head, thorax and abdomen

Hornets are a species of wasps that are large and hostile. Their internal anatomy is similar to a bee’s since they are related. However, hornets operate differently from both bees and other wasp species with their size and diet.

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    What Is a Hornet’s Exoskeleton?

    Exoskeletons are hard exteriors that protect hornets from the outside. Shellfish, beetles, and other bees have exoskeletons. This type of body structure is the opposite of an endoskeleton, which supports a body from the inside, like a human’s.

    A Hornet’s Exoskeleton is Made Of polymers, protein, carbohydrates, and lipids that create the tough exterior of an exoskeleton. A crucial component of the exoskeleton is chitin, a polymer. The rigid plates around a hornet’s body are formed by chitin. They attach to the internal anatomy through muscles.

    What Are the Parts of a Hornet?

    The hornet has a head, thorax, and abdomen. The thorax is the middle part of their bodies after their heads, and the abdomen is the bottom portion, which ends in a stinger. Their heads are narrow, and their abdomens long and sleek.


    The hornet’s head includes its mouthparts and eyes.

    Mandibles Jaw-like clasps that make up the external mouthparts. Mandibles grasp food items.
    Antenna Sensory parts that help wasps pick up scents and other chemicals.
    Compound Eyes Two large eyes on the side of a hornet’s head. These eyes pick up images, colours, and light.
    Ocelli Three smaller eyes in between the two compound eyes. These are sensitive to light but not colour.

    Hornets’ head anatomy is relatively the same as most insects.


    The thorax is the middle portion between the head and the abdomen. This is where the wings connect to the body.

    Wings Hornets have four wings like other wasp and bee species. The forewings are large, and the hindwings are smaller. The wings connect together to fly.
    Legs Hornets have six legs protruding from their thorax. They have forelegs, middle legs, and hind legs.
    Tibia The tibia is the middle portion of a leg, which is connected to the femur and tarsus.
    Femur The top parts of hornets’ legs.
    Tarsus The long yellow portions of hornets’ legs that end in claws.

    While the thorax helps hornets move and fly, the abdomen is where most of their internal anatomy resides.


    Hornets’ abdomens are larger and longer than wasps’.

    Tergum Hard plates on the surface of abdomens, which are black or yellow.
    Sternum The portion underneath the abdomen and above the stinger.
    Stinger A long, smooth stinger that is more fatal than other wasps’ or bees.’ Only females have stingers.
    internal anatomy of a bee
    Hornets are related to bees therefore their internal anatomy is very similar

    What Is the Difference Between Male and Female Hornets?

    As with other wasp and bee species, male hornets don’t have stingers while females do. Hornets are social, which means they reside in colonies like honeybees.

    Female hornets are infertile and are usually outside of the nest in the daytime. Their foraging nature classifies them as workers. Their unused reproductive systems have evolved into stingers with venom sacs attached. This portion of their body is called the ovipositor, where eggs were meant to travel through.

    Queen hornets have stingers as well, but they are the only fertile females. They tend to be larger than both worker and drone hornets.

    Male hornets are also known as drones. Instead of a stinger, the end of their abdomens ends in genitals.

    Female hornets are aggressive towards others and drones. They will use their stingers and power to kill off male hornets to preserve the food supply.

    Do Hornets Have Pollen Baskets?

    Hornets pollinate, but they do not carry pollen as bees do. Hornets and wasps have less hair than bees. Bees use their furry features to collect large amounts of pollen and create a pollen basket.

    Hornets do not collect as much pollen, but their transparent hair does catch them.

    hornet stinger
    Hornet Stinger

    What Is the Difference Between Hornets and Wasps?

    Hornets are a type of wasps with slight distinctions. Hornets are more aggressive, social, and live in nests. Wasps are more solitary, lay eggs in other creatures, and are smaller than wasps.

    Hornets can be identified by their brighter colours and more rounded abdomens. Wasps will have long legs and are less colourful than hornets. The bands on the hornets’ abdomens are white while wasps’ are yellow.

    Both hornets and wasps are parasitical, have stingers, and eat both plants and other insects.

    What Is the Difference Between Hornets and Bees?

    Wasps tend to have longer and more narrow bodies, while bees are rounder and shorter. Bees do not prey on other insects and are less aggressive than hornets and wasps. Hairy fur all over bees’ bodies helps them collect pollen when they forage.

    Hornets are hairless and will go after other organisms as a food source, although they also pollinate like bees.

    Hornet Anatomy Queen Eyes
    Queen Hornet

    Hornets’ Differences in Anatomy From Related Species

    Hornets, wasps, and bees are built similarly. They all have three segmented body parts, four wings, and stingers. The hornet’s size and strength make it more aggressive and dangerous than the other species.

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