A total of 101 queens had been discovered as of yesterday, of which 53 were caught in monitored traps and 48 were reported by members of the public. The highest recorded number before this came in 2019 when 69 were found.
However, the Island’s Asian hornet co-ordinator, Alastair Christie, said there was ‘no firm evidence’ that the 101 queens would translate into an equal number of nests, with this year’s count currently standing at nine.
He said: ‘When it comes to hornets you learn not to have firm expectations, because then they go and surprise you. What we have learnt from our approach is that getting the queens as well as trapping the workers from the early nests is not a bad tactic.’
Without a queen and the necessary workers to maintain it, a nest would ‘dwindle and die’, he added.
Of the queens located this year, 87 were caught and killed while 14 have escaped.
Mr Christie said: ‘We normally experience what we call a “June lull” in which the queen has settled into the nest but there are not enough workers – this is what we are in now, as it is about three weeks late.
‘The number of queens may be alarming on the face of it but the spring trapping has been very successful.’ Insects would be ‘suffering’ in the hot weather, he added.
He also praised the work of the hornet-hunting volunteers, who recently started holding ‘review and strategy’ meetings to discuss the group’s progress.
Islanders are being encouraged to check their sheds, garages and other outdoor areas for nests, and to report any sightings of an Asian hornet by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, attaching a photo if possible.
The species can be 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. Mr Christie can be contacted on 441633.