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Invasive Yellow-Legged Hornet Spotted in the U.S. for the First Time

(Qnnflash) – Georgia officials have identified a yellow-legged hornet within the state’s borders, marking the first instance of this invasive species being found alive and in the wild within the United States. While the hornet itself may not pose significant direct threats to human safety, experts caution that it could have detrimental effects on the local environment and economy.

Tyler Harper, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, highlighted the potential risks associated with the presence of these hornets. They are known to feed on various insects, including honeybees and other native pollinators. Should this invasive species establish itself in Georgia and subsequently spread across the U.S., it could jeopardize honeybee production, native pollinator populations, and the agricultural industry.

The discovery of the yellow-legged hornet was made by a beekeeper in Savannah, who promptly reported it to the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA). The GDA is now urging the public to report any sightings of these hornets in the state to assist in monitoring their spread.

Originally native to Southeast Asia, the yellow-legged hornet has unintentionally found its way to Europe, Japan, and South Korea, where it has become invasive. These hornets measure less than an inch in length and typically exhibit yellow legs, while their body and head colors can vary. They construct egg-shaped paper nests above ground, often in trees, which can house around 6,000 workers on average.

The hornets have been observed preying on various arthropods, with a preference for honeybees. Their potential threat to native pollinators, honey production, and the agricultural sector is concerning, especially considering that honeybees alone contribute $15 billion to the U.S. economy through crop pollination each year.

Following the discovery of the hornet, employees at the Savannah Bee Company, a store specializing in beekeeper products, noticed the hornets targeting bees in their gardens. This behavior further raises concerns about the potential impact on bee populations.

To mitigate the spread of the yellow-legged hornet, the GDA is developing strategies for trapping, tracking, and eradicating them from Georgia. The department has created a reporting system for hornet sightings, urging individuals to provide detailed information about the sighting’s location, nest characteristics, and direction of flight. Given that various native species resemble the yellow-legged hornet, the public is advised to exercise caution around insects and to provide any relevant information to support management efforts.

For More Information :

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/invasive-yellow-legged-hornet-spotted-in-the-us-for-the-first-time-180982750/

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