Wednesday 05 June 2019
The "Spring Queening" project has now come to an end. For the past two months hundreds of volunteers have been the key players in a comprehensive island wide programme to trap queen Asian hornets as they emerged from hibernation in the spring or arrived here from France and possibly other islands.
The main aim of this Spring Queening was to see whether queens could be successfully captured in specially designed traps, thereby denying them the opportunity to raise their workers in small primary nests, to disperse and build the main nest. These large nests expand rapidly during August-September and can hold up to 5,000 hornets. If left uncontrolled Asian hornets present an increased risk to the public as well as causing significant harm to our native insect populations, such as bees.
Each of the volunteers was tasked with checking the traps every day throughout the two month trapping period for the presence of hornets and most importantly, to release any beneficial insects that may have accidentally entered the traps. The Asian Hornet Team will now contact all "Spring Queening" volunteers to ask that traps be taken down and left out for collection by the Asian hornet team over the next couple of weeks. Whilst it is too early in the year to draw any firm conclusions on the success of the project the early indications have been promising.
Francis Russell - Project Coordinator (Asian Hornet Strategy) says:
"We are very grateful to our trapping volunteers for their support and commitment in this project over the past two months. Also to members of the wider public who have played a vital role in reporting potential Asian hornet or nest sightings to us using our dedicated Asian hornet email (email@example.com), social media or by phoning us on (01481 234567). The good news is that across Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Jethou we have captured a combined total of 21 Asian hornet queens; 15 were caught in the "Spring queening" traps, 1 taken at its primary nest and 5 from inside properties where they have flown in.
We would encourage everyone to be extra vigilant in looking out for small primary nests made by the queens at this time of year. Please check out the ceilings of any outbuildings, sheds and porches as we suspect there may be more of these early nests out there".
Now that Spring Queening has officially ended, the Asian Hornet Team will promote the next stage of the strategy which is the "Track don't Trample", to remind members of the public what to do if they spot an Asian hornet. The important message to everyone is please DON'T TRAMPLE IT! Instead take a picture and observe the direction it flies. The team can then use these records to track the worker hornets back to the nest. These nests may be sited anywhere from tall trees to lower down in hedges or brambles so the advice to all gardeners and contractors is to check carefully for signs of activity before you cut back hedges or vegetation. An interesting new behaviour was observed recently at The Mermaid Inn, Sark where an Asian hornet was photographed hovering over a pint of beer.