This species of hornet is described as “invasive and predatory of bees”. Scientists call to “find the nest to destroy it as quickly”.
The scientific world had never found the formal presence of the oriental hornet on French metropolitan soil. It was in Marseille, at the Aygalades stream, that this surprising discovery was made last week. The observations of the original scientists were published in the trade journal Faunitaxies, Monday October 4.
The meeting between Gérard Filippi, Alain Coache and Bruno Gereys, three researchers from the Aix entomology laboratory Ecotonia, and this species of hymenoptera is fortuitous: during a targeted study on the Marseille ecosystem, the distinguished scientists, among the trials of Asian and European hornets, an atypical color sported by some hornets.
“The eastern hornet is easily identifiable thanks to a characteristic coloring scheme that is unlike any of the 21 other hornet species known to the world,” he said in the article.
“Find the nest to destroy it quickly”
This coloration is characterized by a preeminent reddish color over a large part of the insect’s body, coming limited to the yellow part that is particularly found in its Asian and European cousins at the only end of its abdomen.
Above all, the oriental hornet is more aggressive than its congeners, already known for their threatening character. The Vespa orientalis Linnaeus, its scientific name, is “very dangerous, very invasive and predatory of bees”, Gérard Filippi is alarmed by France 3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
“This species has a capacity for very, very rapid expansion. Today, it is very difficult, even useless, to fight against the tests, they multiply too quickly”, continues the director of Ecotonia.
By this, the subject becomes urgent, in the opinion of the specialist: “The challenge is to find the nest to destroy it as quickly as possible”. Especially since males and females have been found in the area of the Phocaean city where the presence of the eastern hornet is now attested, as indicated in the article in the journal Faunitaxys.
A Mediterranean course
Can they also have established themselves elsewhere in Marseille? The question remains open for the experts. The study underlines that “insofar as this species is adapted to Mediterranean ecosystems and is known for its synanthropy, the hypothesis of its installation in the Phocaean city must be considered”.
“It is therefore desirable to check if it is present in other districts of Marseille, as well as in neighboring towns and municipalities”, calls the scientists
The eastern hornet is indeed native to the Mediterranean rims: its natural range is rooted in the Balkans, but it is used to the coasts from southern Italy to Turkey. Trials appeared in Spain as early as 2012, and some Hymenoptera of this species have recently been seen in the northern Italian boot, in Genoa and in Tuscany.
What to put the chip in the ear of Gérard Filippi, who favors the track of the accidental routing by boat to France 3: the Aygalades stream, where the winged newcomers were discovered, flows into the port of Marseille .
Honey bees at risk
While the danger posed by this species – equal to that of an Asian hornet – to humans is already known, honey bees are also subject to the threat of these voracious new predators.
“Its presence could indeed create difficulties in the beekeeping sector, this hornet being considered as a formidable predator of honey bees, which can cause damage in apiaries”, one can read in the article of Faunitaxys.
A worrying phenomenon, while the bee population must face a mortality rate equal to 30% each year and a disastrous projection of the total extinction of its species, according to these data from this specialized site.