Yesterday morning, members of the Jersey Asian Hornet Group conducted a training exercise on the north coast, to test different tracking methods and prepare for the expected increase in Asian-hornet sightings.
Alastair Christie, Jersey’s Asian-hornet co-ordinator, said that the group was constantly seeking new volunteers and was encouraging Islanders to keep a look-out for the insects and contact the group if they believed they had found one.
‘We are starting in the next week or so,’ he said. ‘What we are going to be doing is putting some traps out in what I would call areas of concern. These areas of concern are based on evidence from last year – so where we had late sightings or found any queens last year, but also our vulnerable north-east coast.’
Group volunteer Bob Tompkins said that it was ‘too early to tell’ how many nests might be discovered throughout the year.
‘We know that we’ve had two positive sightings of [Asian] hornets back in the end of January and the beginning of February,’ he said. ‘Both of those were either in or very close to the town area, so there is a possibility that there was a nest in town that was missed last year.’
The number of nests located in 2020 was 38 – marking a substantial drop from the year before, in which 83 nests were found.
‘One of the crucial things is going to be the direction of the wind and the strength of the wind in the coming weeks,’ said Mr Tompkins. ‘If the temperature is warm enough in France for them to become active, then they could be coming over. So over the course of the next week we are going to start putting the traps out and start monitoring them on a daily basis.’
Mr Christie said that the traps due to be set next week would ‘hopefully pick up a good number of queens’ that flew in to the Island and help to establish a clearer picture of how the season could unfold.
‘Bob had a trap last year that caught four queens in as many days,’ he said, adding that volunteers using traditional tracking methods played an important role.
‘We have our established core of volunteers and we are always looking for more,’ he said.
Asian hornets are larger than wasps and can be positively identified by their darker colour, a yellow/orange band across their lower end, a bright pale-yellow belt at the waist and the yellow lower half of their legs.
Islanders seeking to report an Asian-hornet sighting can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, attaching a photo if possible. Islanders can also call Mr Christie on 441633.