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?

Online Video Courses for Texas Pesticide Applicators

Online video continuing education courses are now available for pesticide applicators in Texas. The Texas Department of Agriculture has approved a new series of online video training courses for pesticide applicators who need to renew their license and/or certification. The courses are available 24/7 and can be taken from any internet connected device including computers, tablets, and even your smart phone.

No More Boring Text Slides!

These online video training courses feature an on-screen instructor, Gene Merkl, explaining each topic. By combining innovative video technology with an extremely easy-to-use online training system, we have created an online continuing education program unlike any other in the pesticide or agricultural industry.

What Course Are Offered in Online Video?

COURSE# COURSE NAME CREDITS APPROVED
0753581 PEST MANAGEMENT 1 GENERAL – PEST FEATURES
0753583 FEDERAL PESTICIDE LAWS 1 LAWS AND REGULATIONS
0753585 PESTICIDE LABELING 1 LAWS AND REGULATIONS
0753586 PESTICIDE FORMULATIONS 1 GENERAL – PESTICIDE FACTORS
0753587 PESTICIDE HAZARDS AND FIRST AID 1 GENERAL – SAFETY FACTORS
0753590 PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT 1 GENERAL – SAFETY FACTORS
0753591 PESTICIDES IN THE ENVIRONMENT 1 DRIFT MINIMIZATION
0753593 PESTICIDE TRANSPORT STORAGE AND SECURITY/PROFESSIONAL 1 GENERAL – PESTICIDE FACTORS
0753594 PLANNING THE PESTICIDE APPLICATION 1 GENERAL – PESTICIDE FACTORS
0753596  PESTICIDE APPLICATION PROCEDURES 1 GENERAL – APPLICATION TECHNIQUES

How do I get Started?

You can choose your course and register online by clicking this link (Online Pesticide Training in Texas), or simply give us a call at 1-800-727-7104. Our experienced course advisers will help you choose the right course(s) for you, and walk you through the entire process. We will make sure that you are entirely comfortable with logging in and starting your training before the end of the phone call.