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Invasive species Asian hornets threaten Swiss bees

An Asian hornet destroying a grape

An Asian hornet destroying a grape

(AFP)

A new invasive species is threatening Switzerland. A queen Asian hornet, which eats “useful” insects like honey bees and other pollinators, has been caught in canton Jura. 

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), also known as the Asian predatory wasp or yellow-legged hornet, first appeared in Europe in 2004, in southwest France. Last autumn, specimens were discovered just 20 kilometres from the Swiss border. 

A fertile queen has now been caught in Fregiécourt, northwest Switzerland, the Swiss beekeepers’ association, Apisuisseexternal link, said on Wednesday. 

Asian hornets pose no greater danger to humans than their European relations, it said. The problem, it explained, was that they hunt and eat honey bees and other pollinating insects. If the hornets settle near beehives, they can cause correspondingly serious damage. 

The queen hornet was caught by a beekeeper who recognised it from an Apisuisse information campaign. 

The beekeepers’ association said the best way to deal with hornets was to destroy their nests, “but this should only be carried out by experts”. The responsibility for combating hornets lay with the cantonal environment offices, it added.

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