The hornet has landed: Scientists fight new honeybee killer in US

2023 marked the first sighting of a yellow-legged hornet in the United States, sparking fears that it may spread and devastate honeybees as it has in parts of Europe.

Enlarge / 2023 marked the primary sighting of a yellow-legged hornet in america, sparking fears that it might unfold and devastate honeybees because it has in components of Europe. (credit score: Miguel Riopa/AFP by way of Getty Pictures)

In early August 2023, a beekeeper close to the port of Savannah, Georgia, seen some odd exercise round his hives. One thing was searching his honeybees. It was a flying insect larger than a yellowjacket, principally black with vibrant yellow legs. The creature would hover on the hive entrance, seize a honeybee in flight, and butcher it earlier than darting off with the bee’s thorax, the meatiest bit.

“He’d solely been holding bees since March… however he knew sufficient to know that one thing wasn’t proper with this factor,” says Lewis Bartlett, an evolutionary ecologist and honeybee skilled on the College of Georgia, who helped to analyze. Bartlett had seen these honeybee hunters earlier than, throughout his PhD research in England a decade earlier. The dreaded yellow-legged hornet had arrived in North America.

With origins in Afghanistan, jap China, and Indonesia, the yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina, has expanded over the past 20 years into South Korea, Japan, and Europe. When the hornet invades new territory, it preys on honeybees, bumblebees, and different susceptible bugs. One yellow-legged hornet can kill as much as dozens of honeybees in a single day. It could actually decimate colonies via intimidation by deterring honeybees from foraging. “They’re to not be messed with,” says honeybee researcher Gard Otis, professor emeritus on the College of Guelph in Canada.

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