Herm on alert as Asian hornets start to wake up

HERM visitors are being asked to keep a look out for Asian hornets, as warm spring weather could see the insects coming out of hibernation

Recent warm weather could have encouraged Asian hornets out of hibernation.
Recent warm weather could have encouraged Asian hornets out of hibernation.

Five nests were found in the Bailiwick last year. Three were found in the north of Guernsey and examinations of the removed nests found that queens had not started leaving them yet.

Two nests were found late in the season on Herm, near Belvoir.

‘The late nest in Herm [found in November] definitely had flying queens,’ said Francis Russell, project coordinator for Guernsey's Asian hornet strategy

‘That is a concern. We are being quite vigilant in Herm and the gardeners there are going to put out traps.’

There are hopes that no Asian hornets have over-wintered in Guernsey.

‘We always have to assume we missed some,’ he said. ‘But we had no late sightings last year.’

But that does not mean the island will not see new hornets arriving.

‘Every year we are starting from zero,’ Mr Russell said. ‘Each season is a new challenge.’

Jersey, which is closer to France, has suffered a more serious problem with the hornets and three queens have already been spotted in the island.

Mr Russell said they might over-wintered, which would explain the early sightings.

There have been no sightings of hornets so far in the Bailiwick, even in Alderney, which is the closest island to the French mainland.

Mr Russell said it was planned to launch Guernsey’s spring queening initiative around Easter, with traps placed across the Bailiwick to catch queens.

They are not placed earlier in a bid to reduce the number of pollinators caught.

Mr Russell said the first hornets were expected to be spotted locally from mid-April.

‘The temperatures now are looking very favourable though,’ he said. ‘The winds are also from

the north-east.’

Even if they do appear now, there is a reasonable window to tackle the problem.

Mr Russell said the queens would be setting up starter nests in lower locations, like sheds, feeding their young, for about 10 weeks before moving on to make larger secondary nests in higher trees.

It is during this window that it is hoped the queens will be caught.

Queens wasps – about double the size of worker wasps – have already been seen locally, looking to set up nests.

Mr Russell said this showed that insects were waking up.

While the spring queening traps will not go out until next month, Mr Russell said it would help if islanders would keep vigilant for Asian hornets, which are larger and are more black than usual wasps.

. To find out more or report any sightings visit www.gov.gg/asianhornet.

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