Thursday 01 June 2023
This year the Asian hornet team are reporting that unprecedented numbers of queen Asian hornets have been captured as part of the annual "Spring Queening" island-wide trapping programme.
2023 has been unusually busy with more than double the numbers of these invasive insects being caught compared to previous springs. In past years the highest number of queen hornets caught in the spring was nine. Up to the end of May a total of 20 Asian hornets have been captured in Guernsey along with additional hornets found across the Bailiwick's islands.
Hornets have been found in all the island's parishes except St Saviour and St Peter with St Peter Port (six queens) and Vale (nine queens) proving to be the locations where most of the queen hornets have been captured.
It is believed that the persistent northeast winds may have resulted in more insects making their way to the Channel Islands from France this year as hornet numbers have also been exceptionally high during April and May on Alderney and Sark.
The 'Spring Queening' programme is part of the wider Asian Hornet Strategy work, which aims to prevent these invasive predators from establishing on our island. This will greatly reduce the impact on our native pollinating insects and minimise the likelihood of people accidentally disturbing a nest. Catching queens in the spring significantly reduces the chances of them successfully raising large colonies of worker hornets that are much more difficult to find and deal with in the autumn.
The "Spring Queening" trapping programme coordinated by the States of Guernsey's Asian Hornet Team will end on 10th June. After this date any surviving queens will be actively building their smaller nests in sheds and outbuildings during June and July before moving into taller trees where the main nests are constructed, making them more difficult to find.
Francis Russell, Asian Hornet Strategy Coordinator, said:
"We are very grateful to our volunteers for their support and commitment to the trapping programme over the past two months. We are also very grateful to 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), social media or by phoning on 07839 197082/01481 220356.
"What is unusual this spring is the large numbers of these queen hornets that have turned up in people's kitchens, conservatories, and bedrooms. I suspect we are likely to see more queen hornets over the next two weeks while the wind direction remains set. The good news is that across Guernsey, Herm, and Sark the work of the Asian hornet teams has resulted in the capture of 36 Asian hornet queens."
When 'Spring Queening' officially ends, the Asian Hornet Team will promote the next phase of the control programme which is the "Track don't Trample" campaign. The important message from that time until the end of the autumn is please DON'T kill any hornets. If you find one, it will be a worker hornet so take a picture and observe the direction it flies in. The team can then use this information to locate more worker hornets and track them back to the nest.