This 'Granddaddy of Hornet's Nests Is Terrifying, But Not All Bad

Is there anything beneficial about yellow jackets this menacing? You might be surprised.

Hornets built a nest the size of a small refrigerator inside a Patterson, Louisiana, shed, and Jude Verret was called to remove it. His footage of the harrowing process, posted to Facebook, has drawn millions of views.

The wasps audibly pelt the camera lens, sounding like rain, as professional bee remover Verret walks toward the nest. The buzzing activity ramps up as he dismantles what he calls "the granddaddy of hornet’s nests."

In the video, the nest looks like a large pile of dirt or cardboard. In fact, hornets build their nests by chewing wood into a papery construction pulp. There are about 20 different types of species—in North America, the European hornet is common. The European hornet belongs to a family of wasps that includes all yellowjackets.

Verret, who is also a beekeeper, usually gets stung doing work like this, he told the The Times-Picayune, but "this time, no, I lucked out." Verret, who was covered from head to foot in protective gear, said on YouTube the removal took about 45 minutes.

Hornets can be deadly—a series of attacks by the Asian giant hornet in northwestern China in 2013 killed at least 42 people and injured many others.

More often, however, hornets end up on the losing side when their nests are poisoned or destroyed, as happens in the video from Louisiana.

Nests like this can be terrifying, especially to people with sting allergies. Verret said the nest contained southern yellowjackets, telling the Times-Picayune, "There's nothing good about them, I don't think."

In fact, hornets are an important part of the ecosystem, pollinating plants and serving as predators for other insects, including flies and bees. In some areas, such as Germany, they are protected by federal law to preserve this role.