It is superstition that a hornet bite is dangerous. Even in our modern, enlightened times, rumors still circulate that 7 hornet bites can kill a horse and three can kill a human. There’s no such thing, unless you’re allergic to the bites and don’t have emergency kits with you, as allergy sufferers should. Hornets are very peaceful insects that sting extremely rarely. As long as you remain calm and don’t get too close to their nest, there is no danger. How to behave and how dangerous a sting really is, you can read in the following text.


  • Family of social wasps
  • Originally mainly from East Asia
  • Typical inhabitants of the subtropics
  • 23 hornet species
  • In Central Europe only two kinds
  • Most commonly Vespra crabro
  • Queen size – 23 to 35 mm
  • Life expectancy: Queen about 12 months, workers – about 3 to 4 weeks
  • They build their nests in cavities, eg bird nest boxes or wooden paneling on facades
  • Feed their brood on other insects
  • A colony includes about 400 to 700 insects
  • Only the mated queen overwinters
  • More peaceful than honey bees
  • Specially protected species according to the Federal Species Protection Ordinance

Is a hornet bite dangerous?

This can be answered with a clear no if you are not allergic and the hornet does not bite your mouth or throat. Because hornets don’t lose their sting when they sting, venom is only released briefly, unlike the bee, where it gets stuck and keeps releasing venom. Hornets use their venom to defend themselves against rivals and to kill prey. So you don’t use it very lavishly, so that if you get bitten, not too much gets into the puncture site.

A normal person survives a few hundred bites. It’s painful, of course, but it won’t kill you anytime soon. In terms of composition, hornet venom is less toxic than that of bees.

Things are different for people with allergies. For these people, a hornet sting is dangerous, but no more than a bee or wasp sting. It comes to the typical hives, swelling, redness at the puncture site up to shortness of breath. Allergy sufferers should always carry an emergency kit with antidotes that can be used in an emergency. If this is not at hand, a doctor should be contacted immediately. In bad cases it is better to call an ambulance.

What to do after a hornet bite

Hornet stings are painful. You can clearly see that something has stung. If, in exceptional cases, the spike gets stuck, it should be removed first, preferably immediately. The area usually swells quickly and turns reddish. A red dot surrounded by a white halo is typical. The puncture site burns and can also become hot. Itching later occurs, often lasting for days. As a rule, the symptoms subside within a few days, so that the sting is forgotten after a week at the latest. The swelling usually goes down after 24 hours.

  • Cool the sting site (cold compresses or ice cubes)
  • Poultices with acetic clay bring relief
  • Curd wraps also help against swelling and itching
  • Alternatively, cover the sting site with anti-histamine ointment (Fenistil or Systral)
  • If you want to be on the safe side, you can take anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Cooling gels or pens from the pharmacy relieve it
  • In the case of a sting in the mouth or throat, it is advisable to consult a doctor who will ensure that the airways are not blocked.
  • As an immediate measure, it makes sense to suck on ice cubes and make ice-cold compresses for the throat
Note: Always remain calm after a hornet sting. This is especially important for allergy sufferers.

Hornet sting healer

There are three types of stitch healers: thermal, electrical and mechanical. When using them, it is crucial that they are used as quickly as possible, ideally immediately after the sting. Sting healers come in different forms. The pen-shaped ones are practical, they are small and narrow and can be easily inserted. Thermal sting healers were usually rated the most effective. The swelling decreases quickly and the itching also subsides quickly. It is good that there are no chemical additives, the device works with heat. The heat changes the protein structure of the insecticide. A temperature of 49 to 53°C is generated for a few seconds. This causes a partial decomposition of the poison components. The Sting Healer requires batteries to generate a voltage of 3.6 volts. A built-in microprocessor controls the device. You can choose between two sensitivity levels, one for children and one for adults. The treatment is a little painful, but it doesn’t take long. The pain is bearable.

Electrical stitch healers work with electrical impulses. The application usually has to be repeated frequently until relief begins. With the mechanical sting healer, the poison is drawn out of the sting site with negative pressure. Here, too, it is important to use it quickly, preferably immediately after the sting.

Note: When buying a thermal stitch healer, make sure that a lower temperature can be set for children. If children find the device uncomfortable, the mechanical stitch healer is recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do if you have a hornet’s nest in your backyard?
In most cases you don’t have to do anything. If the nest isn’t hanging right next to the window or somewhere in the way where there’s a risk of accidentally bumping into it, it can get stuck. On the one hand, the insects are not interested in sweet things like cakes or sweets, on the other hand, the hornets die in the fall, so the problem takes care of itself. The nest can then be easily removed. The queen does not overwinter in it.

If the nest has to be relocated earlier, you should contact the Lower Nature Conservation Authority. This “move” must be approved. It should be done by a professional. This can also be found via the Lower Nature Conservation Authority, usually in the Environmental Agency. But environmental organizations such as NABU, BUND or similar offer help. Often a beekeeper can also make the move.

Does it help to “suck out” a hornet bite?
Sucking out reduces absorption of the insect venom. The body’s reaction is less. It is important to spit out the poison after sucking, not to swallow it. Those with allergies to the venom should refrain from sucking. Since not all places are easily accessible, a vacuum pump can also be of good service. She, too, sucks out the poison. For children, such a pump usually works better than sucking with the mouth. You can better explain how it works. Larger children can also use the pump themselves, which is why you should practice the emergency.

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