Hornet stings are more potent and painful than those of wasps and bees but they actually very gentle and timid .
They definitely don't sting on sight despite the comments in the SAS survival handbook -though my kids say that's because i have been nominated the hornet press officer and i am an exception.
Hornets mainly eat flies so they are useful to humans - and in some places they are protected species.
In Gerrmany, a fine of up to 50,000 euros is levied on people killing hornets or destroying their nests.
These are the best photos i managed to get of a hornet this year - it was half way down a wall at the mediaeval village of Eze - so I did quite well getting the shots before the vertigo kicked in .