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Asian Hornets Attack and Swarm US Fire Drone

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.”

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3 comments

  1. Hello. I’ve noticed a glaring error in your article. Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) are NOT in the United States! I am willing to bet the hornets which swarmed the drone were European hornets (Vespa crabro). This is the ONLY species of true hornet which occurs in North America. I am trying to stop this misinformation and confusion by educating people with the facts.

    • Hello Terry,

      We agree we are confused on this issue. Asian Hornets certainly do not occur naturally in the UK, however many reports are conflicting on the type hornet the fire bregade were investigating.

      As far as we can tell they were an invasive species and had begun nesting which is why the fire bregade were looking into it. This is perfectly possible, particuarly considering Asian Giant hornets have been whitnessed as far afield as Southern England

      • Hello, Droneduo.

        Thanks for your reply! 🙂

        I am not aware of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) being in England. However, I do know another species of Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) has entered England from France. So, the hornets being reported in the article are most likely Vespa velutina and NOT Vespa mandarinia.

        Also, I just want to make you aware there are NO Asian hornets which were introduced into North America. The only hornet which we have in my country (USA) is the European hornet (Vespa crabro) which was introduced in the New York City area back in the mid-1800’s. I can say with certianty that the part of the article which says Asian Hornets have spread into the USA is 100% wrong! They are NOT here!

        So, I hope my input clears things up for you.

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