Insights of the Asian Hornet

Whilst the National Park of Jersey is the home to an array of flora and fauna, a new species has recently taken up residence… ‘Vespa velutina nigrithorax’, otherwise known as the Yellow Legged hornet, or locally the Asian Hornet.

This species of Asian Hornet is of great concern to beekeepers and ecologists. Whenever a new and aggressive species is introduced into a long established and balanced ecosystem, and that new species has no natural predators or controls, and is a species that can reproduce rapidly in large numbers and spread quickly, then it will have a significant effect. Native wildlife needs time to evolve defences against such an invader, however this species can increase its numbers so quickly that it may become dominant, before local species can develop strategies to combat it.

Asian Hornets prey opportunistically on a range of wild insects. Its preference for Honey Bees is well documented, but scientific study shows that Honey Bees actually only make up about 45 percent of its diet. The majority of its predation is on our native wild pollinators, Bumble Bees and Wasps are favourite, but anything from Spiders to Dragonflies are on the menu of this voracious predator when it has larvae to feed. Even Hedgehog DNA has been found in larval samples.

Asian Hornets patrol and then hover outside hives, waiting to catch bees as they return from foraging, before dismembering them. If nests of the Asian Hornet are left to thrive, then within just a few years, populations of Honey Bees will be at risk, which of course has far reaching consequences for our whole ecosystem. 

The species was first recorded in Jersey in 2016. Over the past five years, the Government of Jersey, through the Asian Hornet Coordinator post (established in 2019) working in close collaboration with the Jersey Asian Hornet Group have been at the forefront of considerable research and control measures. As of the end October 2021, 63 nests have been discovered following yearly invasion from France. It’s now not a case of eradicating the species from the island, but controlling an established population whilst maintaining measures to resist the continual re-invasion. 

Presentation, Sunday 28th November at 14.30

We are going to be inviting you to an informative and interactive presentation on these Asian Hornets now living amongst us soon. However, due to the uncertainty surrounding the rise in Covid cases, the indoor presentation on Asian hornets at the Frances Le Sueur Centre on Sunday 28th November has unfortunately been postponed. We apologise to those who were hoping to attend but can confirm that the presentation has been rescheduled for early in the new year.

John De Carteret, one of the founder members of the Jersey Asian Hornet Group, and Vice President of the Jersey Beekeepers Association, will give this talk at the Frances Le Sueur Centre. His presentation will last about an hour and be followed by questions. It will cover:

You’ll get a chance to see a nest for yourselves, and find out how anyone can sign up as a volunteer and help in the efforts to control this invasive species. 

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