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Islanders are mistaking ‘mimic’ hoverflies for Asian hornets

News | Published:

ISLANDERS on the lookout for Asian hornets have mistakenly been sending in pictures of hoverflies to the team tasked with tackling the invader.

A States of Guernsey spokesman said about 40 sightings of the hornet mimic hoverfly – volucella zonaria – had been reported to the Asian hornet team.

‘This is around twice as many as recorded last year,’ he said.

‘The hoverfly is a large insect, which likes to settle on objects, cars, washing lines, seats etc.

‘Not only does it mimic the hornet’s appearance, it also acts like a hornet and can often be seen around bee hives and flowering shrubs.

‘However, the hoverfly is totally harmless, as it doesn’t have a sting and it does pollinate as it visits flowers.

‘The reason for the hoverfly’s camouflage is that it lays its eggs in wasp and hornet nest so its appearance has to fool the hosts.’

The hoverfly population has increased over recent years, possibly due to the mild winter weather.

If islanders are unsure about an insect, they are advised to take a picture to held with identifying it.

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‘The number of reported sightings of Asian hornets has grown, which demonstrates that more people are behind the fight against hornets, keeping an eye out for hornets,’ the spokesman said.

‘It is better to be safe than sorry and report any possible sightings of Asian hornets.’

Hoverflies are not the only insects that are being mistaken for Asian hornets.

‘Asian Hornets are often confused with other insects, such as the European Hornet and Giant Woodwasp,’ the spokesman said.

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‘More information on these insects and the opportunity to compare them with the Asian Hornet is available on the “Asian Hornet Watch” app.

‘However, insects are small and constantly on the move so it can be easy to misidentify insects, which is why the pictures are so valuable.

‘We do know that there are certain species that are quite uncommon such as the Lunar Hornet Moth, which tends to be active at night whereas the Asian Hornet does not.

‘If you do see anything in your home, please take a photo before letting it outside.’

The main aim of the Asian Hornet Strategy is to reduce the number of Asian hornets and their nests on the island.

The non-native insect was first seen in Guernsey in 2017 and last year eight nests were removed.

The Asian hornet is an aggressive predator of many types of insect, but on average 30% of its diet is made up of honeybees.

Members of the public are asked to take photos of possible hornets rather than killing them.

  • If a hornet is seen, there is a good chance it will return to the same plants or food supply, so if a photo is submitted to asianhornet@gov.gg ,with the location specified if possible, then the hornet can be identified and tracked back to the nest.
Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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