Invasive Yellow-Legged Hornets Spotted in Georgia Raise Concerns for Beekeepers and Agriculture

Yellow-Legged Hornets: A non-native species of hornet, originally from Southeast Asia, has been spotted for the first time in the United States, specifically in Georgia. This invasive hornet, known as the yellow-legged hornet (formerly Asian hornet), was recently discovered by a beekeeper in Savannah, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA).

Officials have expressed concerns about the potential impact of these hornets on local honeybees and Georgia’s agricultural sector. The GDA Commissioner, Tyler Harper, emphasized that these hornets pose a significant threat to native pollinators, which play a crucial role in the state’s primary industry.

Yellow-legged hornets are social wasps that build egg-shaped paper nests above ground, often in trees. These nests can grow large, housing thousands of worker hornets. Although native to tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, these hornets have already established themselves in Europe, parts of the Middle East, and other non-native areas in Asia.

Dr. Keith Delaplane, a specialist in honeybees at the University of Georgia College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, expressed serious concern about the invasive species. He referred to the yellow-legged hornet as a “grave concern” for beekeepers, as they are known to be voracious predators of honeybees. Their agility in capturing honeybees in flight has earned them the nickname “bee hawk.”

While they are problematic for beekeepers and agriculture, Dr. Delaplane reassured that there isn’t a significant threat to humans. Data from China, where these hornets are present, indicates a limited number of human deaths over a span of two years.

Authorities are urging the public to report any sightings of the yellow-legged hornet to the Georgia Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help monitor and address the situation.

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