The hornets belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, which include:

  • sawflies
  • parasitoid wasps
  • bees
  • social wasps
  • ants

The social wasps belong to the family Vespidae, which contains a great many species in 6 subfamilies, 2 of which contain mostly eusocial species.

Within the subfamily Vespinae, 4 genera are recognised:

  • Provespa
  • Vespa
  • Dolichovespula
  • Vespula

The 3 species of Provespa are restricted to tropical Asia but the other genera are more widely distributed and species-rich.

The familiar 'yellowjackets' are found in the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula.

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