GDA eradicates three more yellow-legged hornet nests
Posted on Nov 16, 2023 at 18:17 PM
On Oct. 27, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) announced the discovery and eradication of three additional Yellow-Legged hornets’ nests in the Savannah area. In addition to these new eradications, the department is announcing a new biweekly newsletter, the Yellow-Legged Ledger, to provide the public with important updates on its efforts to prevent the establishment of this invasive pest. Since the initial detection of the Yellow-Legged Hornet (YLH: Vespa velutina) occurred on Aug. 9, the GDA has found and eradicated a total of five nests. GDA staff continue to work overtime in coordination with its partners the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University of Georgia (UGA) to eradicate the Yellow-Legged hornet from our state and protect Georgia ’s #1 industry - agriculture.
“Our Plant Protection Division team has been very busy, and I’m proud to report that in the last two weeks [of October] we have found and eradicated three additional yellow-legged hornets’ nests thanks to their tireless efforts,” said Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. “While each nest located and destroyed represents a win for our state and our agriculture industry, we will continue to work overtime to achieve our goal of full eradication. We continue to ask for the public’s help in this fight, and we encourage Georgians to sign up for our new newsletter, the Yellow-Legged Ledger, to receive the latest updates from our team.”
All three nests were located by GDA staff, who worked with local pest management professionials and aborists to eradicate the nests.
Discovery & Eradication of YLH Nests
Nest 3 - The 3rd yellow-legged hornets’ nest was located by GDA staff on Oct.11 in Thunderbolt. This nest was located approximately 60 feet high in a pine tree, and despite being the largest nest discovered in Georgia so far (roughly the size of an exercise ball) it was well camouflaged. This nest was located using a combination of electronic tagging as well as capturing, releasing, and tracking of hawking hornets.
Nest 4 – The 4th yellow-legged hornets’ nest was located by GDA staff on Oct. 18 at a private residence in Thunderbolt approximately one mile north of the location of nest 3. This nest was located approximately 90 feet high in a pine tree and was located by capturing, releasing, and tracking hawking hornets that were seen in the area.
Nest 5 – The 5th yellow-legged hornets’ nest was located by GDA staff on Oct 25 near a private residence on Skidaway Island. This nest was located approximately 90 feet high in a pine tree and was located by capturing, releasing, and tracking hornets back to the nest. While this is the first nest found on Skidaway Island, this location is well within the GDA search area and GDA does not believe the hornets migrated outside of the Savannah area.
Upon initial inspection, none of these nests appeared to have begun the production of queens or reproductive males. Samples of dead hornets and larvae from nests 3 and 4 have been sent to UGA for further analysis and DNA testing. Samples from nest 5 will be sent to UGA, the University of Florida, and USDA.
In order to minimize the risk to citizens in the area, all eradications have taken place at night, and the GDA has utilized the same arborist and team of pest management professionals to assist with each eradication. In each case, the eradication process took less than one hour, and no injuries, stinging or otherwise, have been reported by GDA staff or partners on the ground. cypermethrin has been used in each eradication.
The public plays a vital role in the fight against the yellow-legged hornet, and the GDA is launching a biweekly newsletter, The Yellow-Legged Ledger, that is available to all Georgians to provide important updates. Sign up for the Yellow-Legged Ledger here or on the yellow-legged hornet page on the Department’s website.
The GDA continues to have two teams of four deployed in the Savannah area that are actively trapping and surveying for additional nests. These teams have placed 170 traps in the area around the initial detection.
The Department is currently using bucket traps, which are typically baited with a combination of grape juice and brown sugar, but it has also used fish meal and fish fillets. These traps are checked 1-2 times per week by a combination of GDA staff and USDA staff. It is important to note that trapping is not an elimination tool but a monitoring tool to help locate additional nests. The primary methods include electronic tagging and tracking of hornets as well as capturing, releasing, and tracking hornets by sight. Both methods have been used to successfully locate yellow-legged hornets’ nests.
The GDA is asking the public to report any suspected sightings via this readily accessible form. Beekeepers have been key in reporting yellow-legged hornets, and we encourage them to continue monitoring their hives and contact us with any suspicious activity. Georgians with additional questions or concerns are encouraged to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.