SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) confirmed Wednesday that more specimens of an invasive, bee-eating hornet have been found in coastal Georgia and a second nest has been eradicated.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that a second nest of yellow-legged hornets, which has since been destroyed, was located on September 15 under a bridge on Wilmington Island near Savannah.
“The discovery came just over three weeks after officials tracked down the first hive, which was found high in a tree, also on Wilmington Island,” The AJC’s Drew Kann writes. “That nest was dispatched by a pest control company on August 23.”
Kann adds that so far, “there have been confirmed sightings of the hornets at 12 separate locations in coastal Georgia, all in the areas of Wilmington Island, Whitemarsh Island and Thunderbolt.”
Officials have since confirmed that nine out of those 12 detections were reported to the GDA by citizens and “three were captured in traps set by staff,” Kann reports.
“While our efforts on the ground continue, it is important to note that this is a significant victory and another step forward for our state and for our agricultural industry as we fight the establishment of the hornet in the state of Georgia,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper said during a press conference Wednesday.
In early August, a beekeeper near Savannah spotted the first yellow-legged hornet discovered in Georgia. The sighting marked the “first-ever confirmed detection of the species in the wild in the U.S.,” Kann writes. Read more here.
Officials and scientists warned that the hornet’s arrival in Georgia could threaten honey production, native pollinators and agriculture.
The GDA is continuing to ask for the public’s help in spotting these hornets.
“Georgians play an important role helping GDA identify unwanted, non-native pests, and I want to thank the beekeeper who reported his sighting to us, as well as our partners at the University of Georgia and USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service for working swiftly to confirm its identity,” Harper said. “Our experienced team of professionals will continue to assess the situation and are working directly with USDA APHIS and UGA to trap, track, and eradicate the yellow-legged Hornet in Georgia. "
Officials said the yellow-legged hornet is a social wasp species that builds egg-shaped paper nests, often in trees. These nests can become huge, with an average of 6,000 insects.
The yellow-legged hornet is native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, according to officials.
The GDA said its team of Pest Program scientists, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and academic experts are developing an ‘operational plan to trap, track, and eradicate the yellow-legged hornet in Georgia.’
Officials said yellow-legged hornets can be dangerous, and advised caution in the event of a sighting.
Georgians with additional questions or concerns are encouraged to email the Georgia Department of Agriculture at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is what to include with your report:
• Your name and contact information.
• The location of the sighting.
• Date of sighting.
• If you can, safely take photograph(s) of the hornet (we generally can only confirm a report with a photo or specimen).
• Location and approximate height of the nest if found (Is it in a tree? Approximately how high is the nest?).
• If you have no photo, please include a description of the size of the insect, the color of the head and body, and what it was doing.
• Description of the hive loss/damage (if no photo is available).
• The direction the hornet(s) flew when flying away.
Officials said there are many domestic lookalikes that we have here in the United States who do not pose a threat to honeybees.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution contributed to this story.
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