The Asian Hornet Team has launched its "Spring Queening" initiative for the fourth year running, building on the success of previous seasons and following the extension of funding for the successful Asian Hornet Strategy.
The aim of this phase of the Asian Hornet Strategy is to capture any queen hornets emerging from hibernation, or those travelling on favourable winds to our island from France as they have done every year since 2017.
The overall aim of the Strategy is to keep the population of Asian hornets as low as possible. It is hoped that with Islanders' continued cooperation, we will have another year of successful management of this invasive species which threatens our native insect populations.
Without a coordinated control programme running from spring to autumn, Asian hornets would certainly become established and widespread across the island within a few years. If this were to happen it would then be virtually impossible to eradicate them.
In 2021, three nests were destroyed in Guernsey and two in Herm. While every effort is made to remove these nests before any new queens are released there is always the possibility that some will hibernate locally.
The Asian Hornet Strategy places extra emphasis on capturing queen hornets each spring (a phase termed "Spring Queening") as dealing with a hornet queen and her small nest is much more effective and easier than tackling the very large secondary nests that are invariably built high up in the treetops. Queen hornets live in isolation for a few weeks in spring which makes them easier to trap because they have to forage for food until they raise worker hornets.
During March, the Asian Hornet Team have contacted a regular group of volunteer landowners and householders across the island inviting them to take part in the "Spring Queening" programme. In total, 270 specially modified traps will have been set up in gardens, hedges and fields in time for warmer weather as part of the comprehensive island-wide programme to trap queen Asian hornets. The same systematic method of trapping is being rolled out across Alderney, Herm and Sark to trap these invading non-native pests and prevent their establishment.
Francis Russell - Project Coordinator (Asian Hornet Strategy) says:
"So far this year we have not had any confirmed sighting of Asian hornets anywhere in the Bailiwick, however they are being found on Jersey, so we expect them to start turning up any day now especially as the temperatures reach 13 degrees or more.
"Once again we are indebted to all of our volunteers for looking after the hornet traps. As well as finding their way into our traps, every year queen hornets have a habit of entering properties so it is important to not let these insects escape if you do suspect it could be a hornet. Most likely, it will be a harmless queen wasp, but it is always a possibility, so we are keen to follow up every report.
"We have found a few active wasp nests so I would also ask people to check their outbuildings, sheds, verandas and porches to look for any signs of an early queen hornet nest - these are pale brown and not much bigger than a golf ball."
If you think you have discovered an Asian hornet, try to safely contain it so it cannot escape, take a photograph and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org for confirmation, or call 07839 197082 or 220356. For more information, please visit https://gov.gg/asianhornet.