Basics Safety

8 Tips for Hornet Safety

By on September 29, 2017

Bee, Wasp, and Hornet Safety

Bee stings suck, there’s no doubt.  I’ve been lucky enough not to have been stung by anything but a bee but from others’ experiences I know a hornet sting hurts much worse.  For some people, stings from these insects can cause anaphylaxis leading to death.  According to the CDC, about 2 million people in America have allergies, some more dangerous than others.  Because of this, bees are the “deadliest non-human animals” in America.

beesource: USDA


My Campground Nemesis

We went camping last weekend in New Jersey, excited to get some time away from the city and relax outdoors.  The sun went down, the abnormally warm temperatures began to cool down, and the sunlight faded.  We started gathering our supplies for dinner and threw the burgers on the campfire grill.  As I prepared our plates for dinner, we turned our headlamps on for visibility.

All of a sudden a giant insect was dive-bombing my head, buzzing super loud and crashing into me.  I jumped up as it flew over to Nick and went after him.  We both dropped our cooking tools and plates and dove into our tent for cover.  We quickly realized that these monstrous insects were hornets coming to take over our campsite!  In reality, there must have been a nest nearby and they were out on a night hunt sidetracked by our bright headlamps.

Knowing there was likely a nest nearby made the rest of the camping trip a little less enjoyable but induced my curiosity into learning about hornets, how to get rid of them, and how to safely avoid them.

Here are some tips.

8 Tips for Hornet Safety

#1: Light is attractive

Hornets are attracted to sources of light.  That could be your campfire, headlamp, or flashlight.  Be wary if you decide to go search for the nest at night; this might not be the best idea considering you are likely waving around a flashlight.


#2: Sugar sugar

Be cautious when eating outside.  Wasps, bees, and hornets are especially attracted to sugar so any sweets or sugary drinks will catch their attention.  If you choose to drink sodas or any other sugar-laden beverages, it’s best to use a cup or covered beverage container like a Hydroflask.  That way you won’t have any surprises like finding a dead bee in your soda can as you go to take a sip!

#3: You smell like flowers

Going on a hike or camping trip is not the time for perfume, cologne, or freshly-washed hair.  The scent of your shampoo, soap, deodorant or any other hygiene product can attract these insects to you.  If you’re hiking or camping, there’s no need to take a fresh shower before you go out anyway; being dirty can help keep them away.  Honeybees can even detect the scent of your chewing gum!


#4: Oh yeah, don’t panic.

Insects may perceive your panic (swinging arms, running) as aggression.  If you are trying to attack or kill it, it may have other hive members come to it’s defense.  Walk away in a straight line calmly.  I know this advice can be somewhat like telling someone encountering a mountain lion not to stay still and run away…


#5: Home sweet nest

As all good outdoorsmen do, keep watch on your surroundings.  Know what you’re walking into and look around before setting up camp.  It’s not always obvious where a nest is, but better to check if you can spot one first.  One problem is that hornets can have nests in the ground so it’s very important to watch where you’re walking, especially if you suspect a nearby nest.

For hornets, the hanging nest will look like an upside down beehive which will be somewhere sheltered.  They build their nest somewhere that will remain fairly undisturbed and protected from weather.

nest hornet safetysource: flickr // Pete Brown


#6: Night hunter

Hornets will hunt at night.  They can easily fly around in the dark but as mentioned, are more attracted to lights.  Keep this in mind when your light source is a bright headlamp on your forehead.  I already mentioned that they are attracted to lights so in combination with hunting at night and sources of light you may use around your campsite in the dark, this makes you a target from a nearby nest.

#7: Nest Removal

I’ve never removed a nest nor do I have any intentions of doing so.  Not my thing.  I’d much rather pay a professional to do it safely.  But, if you decide you’re ready for the task then check out either of these links.  Oh, and good luck.

Removing a hornet nest

Removing a wasp nest

#8. Trashy

Another thing that attracts these pests is trash.  When you stake out your campsite keep aware of the closest trash receptacle and make sure it’s not too close.  When you keep your own trash together, it’s best to not let it accumulate too much and dispose of it.  You don’t want to let trash sit out in the area you plan to hang around in for too long.  Besides bees and hornets you’re likely to attract other pests or even dangerous animals anyway.


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  1. Reply


    September 29, 2017

    Yikes! I would hate to get stung by hornets. Like you, I have never been stung, but I’ve heard plenty of stories. And I always have to remind my fiancé not to wear deodorant right before a hike or else he’ll attract all the bugs! Thanks for these other tips!

    • Reply


      October 3, 2017

      I wouldn’t have even thought not to wear deodorant. Maybe he can get unscented tho?

  2. Reply

    Al Christie

    September 30, 2017

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been stung plenty of times over a lifetime, usually when accidentally bumping into a nest when working in the woods. The last time, a few years ago, was when I was cutting down a tree. As it fell, it bumped another tree which unbeknownst to me had a hornets nest in it. The whole hive came after me. I think the noise and vibration from the chain saw aggravated the situation too. The stings were very, very painful. I didn’t know they hunted at night. Learn something every day!

  3. Reply


    October 2, 2017

    Hornets look so weird and scary up close! I’d hate to get stung by one; not too sure if California has a bunch of those… I know we get a lot of bees!

    cabin twenty-four

    • Reply


      October 3, 2017

      I’m not sure!

Please comment or ask questions!

New York, NY

I am Rachel, an early 30's Midwestern girl residing in NYC with my husband and dog. I have learned to appreciate the city but am also a huge adventure girl. Follow along with my outdoor adventures as well as my city adventures and fitness journey. I'm an advocate of empowering other petite women not to be limited by our size!


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