Asian hornet trackers ready to go into use
TINY transmitters are soon to be used to help tackle Asian hornets in Guernsey.
Ten have arrived in the island, along with an aerial and a receiver, and this week States bee inspector Damian Harris will start practising attaching the expensive equipment to live hornets.
‘It is really exciting,’ he said. ‘We have two or three nests we have to find over the next few weeks. We think we have a couple of weeks before the queens are released.’
Early autumn is when queens leave the nest to mate before going into hibernation over the winter to emerge the following spring and start building new nests.
While in Jersey they are chilling the hornets before attaching the kit, Mr Harris said he wanted to make sure they were not injured during the process, so that they were able to return to their hives and be tracked.
Instead, the hornets will be attracted to bait stations and caught in boxes with holes, normally used for queen bees. Thread will then need to be inserted through the holes with a carpet needle and around the hornet.
The transmitters each have an eyelet for the thread to go through, so it can hang down beneath the hornet.
Each transmitter costs £140, so Mr Harris said they would be practising using fishing swivels, which are about the same weight – the transmitter is 0.29g, a swivel is 0.33g.
The transmitters have a 1km range, however hornets can travel up to 1.3km. Mr Harris said this meant that tracking and reporting hornets was still vital.
The transmitters are switched on and off using a magnet, but the batteries cannot be replaced. Each battery has a life of 11 days, so it is hoped the transmitters can be used to track a nest and then be recovered and switched off, so they can be reused.
The £1,700 for the aerial and receiver was provided by the States, while donations from the public and Channel Islands Co-op funded the transmitters. If it proves successful, more transmitters can be purchased.
So far, six nests have been removed this year in Guernsey, compared with 38 in Jersey.
A large nest in St Andrew’s – about the size of a beach ball – is set to be removed soon. In St Peter’s, another nest also needs to be taken down.
However, as it is over a watercourse, the normal poisons cannot be used so it has proved hard to tackle.
It is suspected there is a nest in St Peter Port, after hornets were sighted at Castle Cornet and Trinity Square, and another at L’Eree.
Three nests have been removed from Longis Common on Alderney. While there have been no sightings on Herm, there have been hornets seen on Sark.
Asian hornets are a threat to local wildlife as they target honey bees, which are vital for pollinating plants.
n If a suspected hornet is sighted, the public should take a good quality close-up photo, if possible, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Islanders are asked to include the location and direction of the hornet’s flight.
Alternatively, sightings can be logged through the free iPhone and Android recording app: Asian Hornet Watch, or by phoning 234567.