The first Asian Hornet has been caught as part of the States' project 'Spring Queening' - an island wide operation aiming to reduce the risk of the invasive insect species to the local bee population.
Since the middle of March, staff working for Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Services (ACLMS) have been busy setting up the comprehensive island wide programme to trap queen Asian Hornets as they emerge from hibernation in the spring or arrive here from further afield.
The Asian Hornet team have delivered a total of 275 specially baited traps, spaced approximately 500m apart, covering the whole of Guernsey. Each of these are being regularly checked by volunteers in an attempt to capture as many of these spring queens as possible.
One of those volunteers is Vale Resident Lucy Harnden, who, on Thursday 18 April, found the first queen caught in her trap.
"It only stood out to me because it was so much bigger - remarkably bigger than the usual wasps the trap had been catching," Mrs Harnden said. As a volunteer, she had to empty the trap out of normal insects each day, and check for Asian Hornets.
"Apparently they have been distributing the traps every 500m around the island - I had them knock on my door about three weeks ago and ask and I was happy to help really, I had heard about how dangerous they are to the bee population."
The traps themselves are small plastic containers with black lids, and the volunteers put a glucose like substance inside which attracts the insects.
"You could tell it was an Asian Hornet because it was a brown, black colour with a very clear orange stripe and yellow legs. It was a lot more orange than a wasp," she added.
"I left it in the trap and phoned the number I had been given, Mr Russell came along confirmed it was a hornet. I have got a new trap now."
With the prolonged periods of sunshine and recent increase in temperature the Asian hornet team predicted that the traps would start picking up hornets over the Easter weekend.
An app supported by the States to help the public assist in eliminating the Asian Hornet threat.
Francis Russell, Project Coordinator for the States' Asian Hornet Strategy, said: "When I spoke to Mrs Harnden she sounded very confident that her trap had caught an Asian hornet. During the afternoon she had noticed something that appeared quite different from a couple of wasps that had also entered the trap. She described it as being larger and having bright orange markings on the abdomen. I asked her to leave the trap where it was until I arrived. As soon as I looked at the trap I was able to confirm a positive identification.
“We cannot emphasise enough the important role played by members of the public inreporting potential Asian hornet sightings or looking out for small nests made by the queens at this time of year. Our aim is to ensure that we can keep the populations of Asian hornet as low as possible, to protect public health and the Island’s biodiversity, and we remain especially grateful for the assistance of the volunteers involved with the Spring Queening project.
The first recorded sighting of an Asian hornet in Guernsey was in March 2017. Over the last two years the number of Asian hornet nests found in Guernsey increased from 2 in 2017 to 8 in 2018. All eight nests were located and destroyed. A large nest can hold as many as 5,000 hornets, which presents a risk to the public, and will cause significant harm to our native insect populations, such as bees.
Pictured top: An Asian Hornet, image by Andy Marquis, and Mrs Harnden with her trap.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.