Last Week A Jersey Fire and rescue drone was swarmed by a over 6,000 hornets.
The Drone was being used by the Fire service to try and locate the a nest of Asian Hornets. The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), including the subspecies Japanese giant hornet which are colloquially known as the yak-killer hornet, is the world’s largest hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia. They prefer to live in low mountains and forests, while almost completely avoiding plains and high-altitude climates.
The Asian Hornet creates nests by digging, co-opting pre-existing tunnels dug by rodents, or occupying spaces near rotted pine roots. It feeds primarily on larger insects, colonies of other eusocial insects, tree sap, and honey from honey bee colonies. Some dimensions of this hornet are a body length of 45 mm (1.8 in), a wingspan around 75 mm (3.0 in), and stinger length of 6 mm (0.24 in) which injects a large amount of potent venom.
Due to recent shifts on global climate the warming of previously cooler environments, Asian Hornets have seen a rapid spread into both Europe and the US.
Operators had being flying the Drone when they heard a low buzzing. Initially they assumed that it was the sound of the Drone’s propellers however, it soon turned out to be a swarm of Hornets. It is thought that the sound of the drone alerted the Hornet’s to its presence. The Hornets attempted to swarm the unmanned aircraft, sting it and consequently left jets of Venom along the craft’s casing.
British Broadcaster ITV reckons that the nest is around a metre long and may contain up to 200 Queens all of which can start a new nest. Furthermore the BBC reports that the nest which the drone was being used to hunt down is “thought to contain about 6,000 hornets”. The Problem of Asian Hornets is not just limited to the US. Sightings of Asian hornets have been reported in the South of England, which the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has even gone as far as to launch an app for members of the public to log sightings, so that they can gain a better estimate and picture of the migration of hornets into England.
It isn’t just drones which are being attacked by these vicious beasts. The British Beekeepers association recently released a statement stating. “As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, other native species and potentially ecosystems… do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest.”