Asian hornet threat: 50 traps around Island checked daily

MORE than 50 insect traps around the Island are being checked every day as beekeepers step up efforts to try to halt the spread of the deadly Asian hornet.

The Asian hornet
The Asian hornet

The invasive species is the biggest threat to the survival of the honey bee, as one nest can contain about 6,000 hornets, each of which can kill 50 bees in a single day.

Since 2016, when the species was first spotted in Jersey, members of the Jersey Beekeepers Association have been working closely with the Environment Department to try to halt its spread.

Association president Tim du Feu said that as insects and wildlife emerge from their winter hibernation a careful watch is being kept for sightings of Asian hornet queens intent on establishing new colonies.

‘We are ready but as yet they do not appear to have headed out as we have not received any reports of Asian hornets,’ he said.

‘We have got various hornet traps out there and they are fitted with a special attachment to make sure we are not trapping queen bees and wasps. Our beekeepers are going out on a daily basis to check for the Asian hornet and to release any by-catch.’

The Asian hornet (Latin name Vespa velutina) has spread across Europe since it arrived in the French port of Marseilles in a consignment of flower pots from China in 2004. The first confirmed sighting in the British Isles was made in Alderney in July 2016.

A month later it had arrived in Jersey and between April and October last year 15 nests were found here and destroyed.

Mr du Feu said that a public information leaflet will shortly be released so Islanders know what to look for.

‘The public can help by looking for them and phoning the Environment Department if they see any around,’ he said. ‘We are asking gardeners with camellia bushes to keep an eye out for them on a warm day. Camellias are in flower at the moment, and the hornets are attracted to them.’

The Asian hornet is smaller than the more common native European hornet. It measures between 17 mm and 32 mm and its sting – which is painful and in rare cases can be fatal – measures 6 mm.

Also known as yellow-legged hornets, they are predominantly black with a broad orange stripe on the abdomen and a fine yellow band on the first segment. Sightings should be reported immediately to Environment by calling 441600.

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