Learn the Difference Between the Asian Giant Hornets and this Texas Native Species

This month, many Texas residents mistakenly believed they encountered the Asian giant “murder” hornet. In order to stave off any future bee-related backyard BBQ freakouts, researchers at Texas A&M ArgiLife have released important details regarding these recent “murder hornet” sightings.

David Ragsdale, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and associate director of Texas A&M AgriLife research said his department has received up to 10 photos of various wasps per day from people who think they’re seeing the Asian giant hornet. But what they’re actually looking at is the Texas native cicada killer wasp, or ground hornet. Many pest management agents and specialists around the state have also received “murder hornet” related inquiries.

“Most everyone has seen the cicada killer wasp, that is very large, but has mostly been ignored in the past,” Ragsdale said. “With the most recent news of the Asian giant hornet, they are now paying attention to the native Texas insect.”

Asian giant hornet and cicada killer wasp

How to Tell the Difference

Since the cicada killer wasp and their other native Texan lookalikes are currently going through a case of mistaken identity, below are key differences between them and the Asian giant hornet.

Note: Holly Davis, Ph.D., a Texas A&M AgriLife extension service entomologist in Weslaco said it’s important to know that there have been no confirmed reports of Asian giant hornets in any other U.S. location other than the northwestern corner of Washington state.

Asian Giant Hornet

  • Is 1.5 - 2 inches long
  • Its head is as wide or wider than its shoulders
  • It’s body is a combination of bright orange/yellow and dark brown
  • It has a pinched waist with brown and orange stripes that cover the abdomen

Cicada Killer Wasps

  • All three species are between 1 - 1.5 inches long
  • Their heads are narrower than their thorax
  • Their heads and thorax are typically the same dark orange or brown color
  • They also have a pinched waist, but their abdomen stripes are jagged

Asian giant hornet and Texas native species comparison

Davis says Asian giant hornets are very protective of their nests and will sting people who they view as a threat - but cicada killer wasps are mostly solitary and usually don’t attack in great numbers. Although you likely won’t deal with any Asian giant hornets in upcoming service calls, just helping your customers understand the difference between these species can save their sanity.

Do you need state approved continuing education or exam prep?

Texas Applicators May Take All of Their CE Online

The Texas Department of Agriculture is allowing applicators to complete all of their continuing education online.
The in-person class requirement has been lifted the foreseable future so applicators can comply with COVID-19 quarantine. 

What does the change mean for you?
Structural and agricultural applicators may complete all continuing education online RIGHT NOW. Even  if you completed online continuing education last year.


Agricultural Applicators

Commercial & NonCommercial
Must complete 5 CEU

Private Applicators
Must complete 15 CEU

Structural Applicators

Must complete 2 CEUs in general training & 1 CEU in each certified category.

Texas Pest Control Applicator – December 2019 CE Deadline

How do I renew my Texas pest control certification?

  1. Complete the required continuing education
  2. TDA will send out renewal forms 45 days prior to renewal.

How long is my Texas pest control certification valid?

One year. Your certification expires when your employer's business license expires. You must complete continuing education by December 31st the year previous to expiration. For example, if your certification expires April 2021, you must complete continuing education by December 31st, 2020.

What are the continuing education requirements for Texas pest control professionals?

Certified applicators must complete 2 credits in general training and 1 credit in each category in which the applicator is certified. Of the 2 general training units required for recertification, at least 1 must be in federal & state laws, pesticide safety, environmental protection, or integrated pest management. The other may be in any general topic.
You may complete your continuing education online every other year.

Where can I find Texas-approved pest control continuing education courses?

Certified Training Institute provides online continuing education approved by the Texas Department of Agriculture

Who submits my Texas pest control continuing education?

Upon completion of your course(s), Certified Training Institute will submit your completed credits to the state for you.

Is there a grace period for renewing my Texas pest control certification?

Applicators who fail to renew their license by their expiration date will incur a late fee.

  • 90 days or less – Licenses that are overdue 90 days or less will incur a 50% late fee.
  • 90 days or more – Licenses that are overdue 100 days or more will incur a late fee of 100% the renewal fee.