Could your property contain a hibernating Asian hornet?

That is the question islanders on Jersey are being asked in their fight to contain the spread of the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) since 2016 when the first Asian hornet was confirmed. This follows the confirmed sighting of an empty nest discovered on Christmas Eve after potentially releasing dozens of queens, which may go on to form new nests in the spring. Asian hornet volunteers are now undergoing training to detect Asian hornets and Islanders have been urged to play their part.

Alastair Christie, Asian Hornet Coordinator (centred)
with trainee volunteers on Jersey Island

Alastair Christie, is the Island’s Asian Hornet Coordinator, who recently presented a talk on how Jersey is coping with the invasion of Asian hornets at the South West Asian Hornet Convention and Training Day in Bridgewater, Somerset. He said that the significance of the nest found in December is that as it was not discovered earlier in the autumn, it was allowed to mature and release a new generation of queens to hibernate, and then emerge this coming spring to build new nests for 2020.

A total of 83 nests were discovered in 2019 in Jersey, with 53 having been found in the previous year. With spring just arond the corner, he is expecting the first queens to emerge from hibernation around the end of March, depending on when the weather starts to warm up.

As well as deploying traps designed to capture Asian hornet queens on Jersey as they emerge from hibernation to set up new colonies, a team of volunteers have been trained in finding nests using radio tracking which they hope will enable them to track and eradicate nests as they battle with the invasion.

With mainland UK already having confirmed sightings of Asian hornets, it's a stark reminder to us all to be vigilant and check garden sheds, outhouses, dry wood piles, compost heaps as these are the sorts of places hibernating queens can be found.