These overgrown relatives of bees are known for their painful sting. Wasps are common throughout the Holy Land. Hornets are a large species of wasp. So savage were these insects when disturbed that Egyptian soldiers used hornets as a symbol of their military might.
When the people of Israel were marching toward the Promised Land, God promised He would send hornets before them to drive the Canaanites out of the land (Ex. 23:28). Ancient writers claim that entire tribes were sometimes driven out of a country by wasps or hornets.