Asian hornet nest removed from tree in Vale garden

THE last known Asian hornet nest in Guernsey was located in Rue du Closel near L’Ancresse on Friday.

The hornets are an aggressive invasive species and they are a ‘voracious predator’ of many types of insect.

The Asian Hornet Team suspected a nest was close to L’Ancresse Road, Vale, due to sightings by beekeepers. However, the nest had eluded detection since August.

Francis Russell, project co-ordinator for the Asian Hornet Strategy, said the team is relieved to have located the nest.

‘We’re hopeful that when we come to examine the nest in the laboratory we will find that it had not yet had a chance to disperse next year’s generation of queens. With any luck it was found in the nick of time,’ he said.

The nest was discovered and reported by the property owners when leaves fell off the tree in their garden and revealed the hornet nest.

It was removed with the help of field officer Damien Harris and tree surgeons Treevolution. Then it was placed into a deep freezer, where it currently remains.

The nest must be frozen until all of the hornets have died, then the nest can be examined for queens.

Mr Russell said it is important for Guernsey to manage hornet populations for three reasons.

An Asian Hornet nest was found in tree in a garden on Rue du Closel, Vale last week. A section of nest comb was found beneath the nest. The Guernsey Asian Hornet Team assumed it was damaged last week during the storm. The nest was removed on Friday. (Submitted photo)

‘The average large hornet colony consumes more than 11kg of insects in one season. That’s something like 80,000 insects. They predate upon lots of Guernsey’s native insects and they are catastrophic to our biodiversity,’ he said.

Honeybees comprise around 30% of a hornet’s diet. The hornets also feast on other pollinators. Mr Russell said it is important to protect pollinators to minimise financial impacts.

Finally, Mr Russell said, the Asian Hornet population must be managed to protect human health. The hornets are an aggressive insect that will sting humans if the nest is disturbed. Hornet-related deaths have been reported in both Spain and Portugal.

Three other nests have been found this year – two small ones, including one in St Saviour’s and a mature nest in the Vale. The team also captured 10 queen hornets during the ‘spring queening’ phase of the management strategy.

‘The Asian Hornet Team would like to thank everybody who has got involved in helping us with this ongoing threat to our native wildlife. Public engagement is essential for our success, which is clearly demonstrated by the events of this year,’ said Mr Russell.

He added that the latest nest might be the last one on Guernsey this year. No further sightings have been reported. However, he and his team are not celebrating because their work will inevitably resume in the spring.

‘I’m very happy, but it’s never that easy to know if there are more,’ he said.

‘Here in Guernsey, there’s still a chance to keep hornets at a low level where we have a better chance of keeping on top of hornet problems. However, in the spring, we know more queens will fly over from France, and we have to be ready to keep tracking and managing the population.’

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News