It hurts like hell How dangerous is a hornet sting really?

“Seven hornet bites kill a horse, three kill an adult and two kill a child” – at least that’s what the saying goes. But how dangerous is a hornet sting really? You have to know that.

It is about 25 millimeters long and almost twice the size of its relatives, the bees and wasps: the hornet. A queen even reaches an average of 35 millimeters.

But it’s not just because of its size that it scares some people. Because their sting is particularly painful because of the thick sting.

That’s how strong the venom of a hornet is

Is that what makes her so dangerous? No, says the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU), for example. The venom of a hornet is no stronger than that of a wasp, and bee venom is even 3.6 times stronger.

The fact that the sting is still so painful is due to the fact that the sting, averaging 3.5 millimeters, is at least one millimeter longer than its smaller relatives.

On the other hand, the hornet secretes the substance acetylcholine, which is not found in the venom of bees and wasps. This substance is perceived as burning and therefore causes more pain.

How dangerous is a hornet sting?

In order to be killed by the stings of the so-called Vespa crabro, one would have to have very bad luck: it would take several hundred stings for a healthy adult to poison him life-threateningly – the popular wisdom says “seven stings kill a horse, three stings kill a person”. ‘ is therefore obsolete. Even a rat survives up to 60 bites, for mice it becomes dangerous after six bites.

Since a fully developed hornet colony contains between 400 and 700 animals, a person would have to fall into an entire nest to be in danger. Because just like wasps and bees, hornets are peaceful and only attack when they feel threatened and cannot flee. However, contact with people is rare.

Hornets are not interested in cake or ice cream

Unlike wasps, which can be quite a nuisance in the height of summer, hornets are not interested in sweets like cake or ice cream. This minimizes the risk of hornet bites in the mouth or throat, which could lead to suffocation.

Great danger for allergy sufferers – what you need to know

A hornet sting only becomes dangerous if the stung person is one of the two to three percent of the population who suffer from allergies. The allergic reaction begins with hives, swelling and redness at the injection site, and in some cases there may even be shortness of breath. To be on the safe side, you should see a doctor immediately. However, a severe allergy does not develop until you have been bitten several times.

Hornets in danger of extinction

However, it is quite rare to meet a hornet, because due to its bad reputation it was often persecuted and in many regions of Central Europe the hornet is now threatened with extinction. It has been a protected species since 1987 – the animals may not be killed or their nests destroyed.

Instead of calling an exterminator, it is sufficient to secure the nest – for example by attaching fly wire. One should rather ask oneself: Who has to be afraid of whom here?

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