Tag Archives: bees and wasps

Hornets in Spain

Hornets are often considered pests, as they aggressively guard their nesting sites when threatened and their stings can be more dangerous than those of bees. There are now four types of hornet in Spain with three being introduced, considered invasive and a threat to endemic wildlife. (A fifth is often mentioned in the press but the Asian giant hornet (Vespa Mandarina) is NOT present in Spain).

  • Hornets (insects in the genus Vespa) are the largest in the wasp family and some species can reach up to 6 cm in length. There are around 22 species of Vespa in the world and most only occur in the tropics of Asia.
  • Like other social wasps, hornets build communal nests by chewing wood to make a papery pulp. Each nest has one queen, which lays eggs and is attended by workers that, while genetically female, cannot lay fertile eggs. Male hornets are docile and do not have stings.
  • Most species make exposed nests in trees and shrubs, but some build their nests underground or in other cavities.
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Yellow carpenter bee – Xylocopa Pubescens

The yellow carpenter bee – Xylocopa Pubescens is typically found in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin, North Africa, and the Middle East, ranging from Cape Verde to South Asia. However, it has recently expanded its distribution to the Canary islands and mainland Spain. This species prefers relatively warm areas with a minimum temperature of 18 °C (64 °F) for foraging, so it is expected to be restricted to coastal and low altitude areas of Iberia.

One notable feature of Xylocopa pubescens is its strong sexual dimorphism. Females are black with bright yellow fur on their thorax, which is large and shiny black. On the other hand, males are smaller and distinguished by a narrow head and yellow pubescence that covers their entire bodies.

(Top image – Female Xylocopa pubescens – Author: Jan Richtr – https://www.biolib.cz/en/taxonimage/id109367/?taxonid=399701&type=1)

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