One specimen of Vespa orientalis was detected on the 13th of May in Genoa (Italy) by a beekeeper, Mr Andrea Valle, member of AlpaMiele (Ligurian Association of Honey Producers) and worker at Genova harbour. Pictures have been immediately sent to researchers and entomologists involved in the LIFE STOPVESPA and Stopvelutina projects. They confirmed the first identification, previously done by AlpaMiele technicians.
Vespa orientalis should not be confused with the yellow-legged hornet Vespa velutina; the last one is an exotic species which is now spreading rapidly across Europe since 2004 and in Italy since 2012, that preys on honeybees and may cause important threats to beekeeping and biodiversity.
Conversely, Vespa orientalis is an endemic species of Asia, Middle East, North Africa and south-east Europe; the hornet is naturally present in the southern Italy, Sicily for instance, where it is able to cause important impacts on beekeeping, particularly in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani. As it happens for other hornets, Vespa orientalis can be transported by humans, as a consequence of transports and trade of goods. This is probably the origin of the observation in Genoa and also of other reports in Lazio region (Italy) and in Valentia (Spain).
Harbours and other transport nodes represent the main way through which exotic species can enter and spread in countries. Early warning and Rapid Response Systems are of paramount importance to prevent and control their diffusion. The Monitoring System developed and established in Liguria against Vespa velutina, which includes information campaigns, monitoring and surveillance in cooperation with Liguria region, allowed to detect and rapidly identify this species.
The hope is that this observation is only one isolated hornet and colonies are not founded yet. In any cases, we invite people to monitor the presence of V. orientalis by placing bottle-traps – similar to those used for V. velutina – and by paying particular attention to trapped hornets.
Hornets and wasps can be misidentified, especially if people are not trained in species identification, however each of them have unique characteristics. To simplify the identification process, it is important to take photos of the individuals and preserve them in freezer for further analysis.
For reports in Liguria:
800 445 445 (free number Regione Liguria) – +39 335 6673358 (LIFE STOPVESPA)
Contacts and information
AlpaMiele Ligurian Association of Honey Producers
European Project LIFE STOPVESPA
Network of di risearchers and beekeepers for monitoring of Vespa velutina.