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Nest of up to 5,000 Asian hornets found in St Aubin

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FOLLOWING sightings of Asian hornets around St Aubin over the weekend a nest containing up to 5,000 of the invasive insects has been found in the roof of a property in the village.

An Asian hornets’ nest

Beekeepers were able to locate the colony yesterday after residents contacted the Environment Department to say insects had been spotted inside a pub and restaurant on the Bulwarks, in the supermarket and inside a flat on Mont Les Vaux.

Last week Environment Minister John Young instructed the department to prioritise its resources for invasive species on the Asian hornet, as it is feared that there could potentially be thousands of queens about to breed which could establish tens of thousands of nests next year. The latest discovery brings the total number of nests found since April to 20. With several more suspected nest sites around the Island, including densely populated areas such as Five Oaks and between Bagatelle Road and St Saviour’s Road, Environment is to call meetings with Education and the emergency services.

‘This is to make sure that the Education Department and the Island’s emergency services are prepared and that everybody knows what to do when hornets or nests are spotted at schools or reported by members of the public,’ Dr Tim du Feu, director of environmental health, said.

A group of Jersey beekeepers have been spearheading the Island’s fight against Asian hornets since the insects first arrived here two years ago. Last week beekeeper John de Carteret said they were being overwhelmed by the current population explosion.

To help the Island control the outbreak beekeepers from the UK are volunteering to help their local counterparts, and Dr Peter Kennedy from Exeter University is in Jersey this week and next testing new hornet-tracking technology funded by the British government.

Since Asian hornets arrived in the south of France in 2004, they have rapidly spread across western Europe. The Asian hornet is a highly predatory insect which can kill 50 honey bees – and other key pollinators – and which, if left unchecked, could seriously disrupt the fresh-produce chain over time, especially in such a confined space as Jersey.

‘The Asian hornet is a major risk for the Island and we shall be giving it a priority,’ Deputy Young said. ‘But we also have to deal with a host of other invasive species, including marine species and the threat of animal diseases.’

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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