First Asian hornet ‘early’ nest discovered last week
ISLANDERS are being asked to be on the lookout for Asian hornets after the first primary nest was discovered last week.
It is the first recorded sighting of an Asian hornet primary nest in Guernsey since the species was first identified in the island in March 2017.
The finding was confirmed by Damian Harris from the Asian hornet team working for Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Services on Wednesday at a residential address near Vale Road.
The nest was discovered after the resident saw a large insect flying towards her under the roof of her porch.
Mr Harris said both the size and location of the nest were surprising.
‘It was about the size of a light bulb, whereas wasps’ nests are golf ball size or smaller.
‘The location was also unexpected as they tend to prefer a sheltered site within a shed or outbuilding – this was attached to an electric junction box about seven feet above the front door, sheltered from the rain but exposed to the wind,’ said Mr Harris.
The queen may have hibernated on Guernsey over winter or have arrived on favourable winds from France or Jersey.
The nest, estimated to have been present for three to four weeks, was well developed and contained six small larvae and 11 eggs.
If left undetected the solitary queen would have continued egg laying and feeding the larvae until a brood of worker hornets had been raised. This would have taken until the end of June.
After this the queen and workers would relocate and build the large main nest, often high up in a tree.
These large nests expand rapidly during August and September, holding up to 5,000 hornets.
If left uncontrolled Asian hornets present an increased risk to the public and significantly harm native insect populations such as bees.
‘This discovery shows the importance of the role of the public in supporting the campaign to control this invasive species by looking for nests as well as the help already being provided for the important job of spring queening: catching queen hornets in specially modified baited traps before they get a chance to develop large nests,’ said Mr Harris.
Asian Hornet Strategy project coordinator Francis Russell said they could not emphasise enough the important role the public play in reporting potential Asian hornet sightings and looking for nests made by queens at this time of year.
‘We would ask people to check out the ceilings of their outbuildings, sheds and porches in case there are more of these early nests.
‘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.’
n Mr Russell said the project team was encouraged by the number of reports received this year and they can be contacted by emailing email@example.com or by calling 234567.