Vespa luctuosa is a species of hornet which is endemic to the Philippines. The main subspecies is Vespa luctuosa luctuosa (primarily native to Luzon island). Other known subspecies include Vespa luctuosa luzonensis (primarily native to the Visayas, including Leyte island and Samar Island) and Vespa luctuosa negrosensis (native to Negros island). Vespa luctuosa is best known for its potent venom.
The venom of Vespa luctuosa has the highest recorded toxicity to mice of any wasp species tested. The LD50 of the venom is 1.6 mg/kg. The toxicity (measured against mice) per weight of Vespa luctuosa venom is higher than that of the Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica), which has an LD50 of 4.0 mg/kg, but which is responsible for many more human deaths than Vespa luctuosa. The greater lethality of Japanese giant hornet stings—as well as the closely related Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia)—results from a considerably larger volume of venom being injected per sting.
In addition to being the most venomous known wasp, Vespa luctuosa has one of the highest recorded toxicities of any known insect venom. Only harvester ant venom from the genus Pogonomyrmex (especially Pogonomyrmex maricopa), as well as the unrelated ant Ectatomma tuberculatum, are known to be more toxic.
Vespa luctuosa tends to build hanging nests in trees and bushes. It only rarely builds nests in human structures and dwellings. The nests built by Vespa luctuosa are generally spherical during the early stages of their construction. After the nests have developed in size, they tend to take a more elongated, vertical orientation.
- Starr, Christopher K.; Jacobson, Robert S. (1990). "Nest structure in Philippine hornets (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Vespa spp.)" (PDF). Japanese Journal of Entomology. The Entomological Society of Japan. 58 (1): 125–143.
- Kojima, J.; Tano, T. (1985). "A new subspecies of Vespa luctuosa from Negros Island". The Philippine Entomologist. 6 (4): 436–437.
- Schmidt, Justin O.; Yamane, Soichi; Matsuura, Makoto; Starr, Christopher K. (1986). "Hornet venoms: Lethalities and lethal capacities" (PDF). Toxicon. Elsevier. 24 (9): 950–954. doi:10.1016/0041-0101(86)90096-6. PMID 3810666.
- Material safety datasheet for Vespa luctuosa luctuosa venom