(VitalNews.org) – A yellow-legged hornet has been spotted for the first time in the U.S, raising concerns for the welfare of the nation’s honeybees. The hornet, Vespa velutina, is a native insect in Southeast Asia and is classed as an invasive species in America.
The alarm was raised by a beekeeper in Georgia, who found the insect on his property, alive and flying around him. The Savannah man called the Georgia Department of Agriculture to alert them to the find. The GDA collaborated with the national Department of Agriculture and the University of Georgia to ascertain that the creature was definitely a yellow-legged hornet. Once the fact was certain, the GDA released a statement warning of the dangers of the invasive species, and declaring their intent to wipe it out in the U.S.
The yellow-legged hornet is related to the infamous “murder hornet”, the Asian giant hornet, also an invasive species to the U.S. The yellow-legged hornet is a species of wasp which fashions egg-shaped nests in the safety of trees. These nests can house as many as 6,000 hornets. The hornets are prolific predators of pollinators such as honeybees, which are vital to the agricultural industry. Without pollinators, farmers would struggle to grow crops, leading to potentially catastrophic effects both for the industry and for the country as a whole.
In order to tackle this threat, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has told the public that it plans to work with several other agencies in order to hunt down and destroy any invasive hornets they can find. They will employ insect traps in order to establish if there are more of the creatures in the area. If there are, they will attempt to establish the location of any colonies that the insects may have come from and will destroy any they find.
The yellow-legged hornets are described by the University of Georgia as being roughly nickel-length, with the females having shorter, thinner antennae than the males. The females also have stingers, unlike the males. They are larger than honeybees, with protective exoskeletons that prevent damage from stingers, making it much harder for honeybees to defend themselves against the invaders. A common strategy of the yellow-legged hornet is to call for its fellow hive members when it finds a honeybee colony. Working together, they kill the worker bees and eat the larvae, thus destroying the whole hive.
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