iNat users in Washington State and British Columbia, keep a lookout for Asian Giant Hornets!

A few have already shown up, and they have a potential to be an invasive species that can devastate honeybee populations (their effect on native bee populations are as-of-yet unknown), along with having the most painful sting of all hornets. Given that Covid-19 has probably crippled most state-sponsored invasive species detection efforts, it might be up to iNat users to find them instead.

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Here in NZ such invasive pest monitoring etc is classed as essential services, but it never hurts to have extra eyes out and about! Fortunately iNatters are pretty adept at spotting the unusual and out-of-place, so any authorities etc involved in biosecurity should already have been made (or become) aware of what a fantastic resource iNat can be for such monitoring/detection.

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Just a note, verifiable records in the US are very few and far between. Online records are far more often misidentified, and there have been numerous news outlets very irresponsibly contributing to fear mongering. Various hymenopterists (including one who holds one of those specimens) don’t suspect that it will become established due to the harsher winter. So it’ll also be important to also discourage identifying almost every large wasp as this species (or in some of the cases of misidentification, moths).

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I do wonder what impact the hornets could have on native bees, as ive heard Giant Hornets favor raiding Apis nests over other bees, and feral honeybee colonies can really negatively impact native bee populations.

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Honeybees have an interesting defense against them though, honeybees can handle a higher internal body temperature. They mob the hornets and essentially cook them.

It used to be thought this was a unique trait of Asian Honeybees, but similar predatory deterrent behavior has been documented in European Honeybees in Hungary and elsewhere.

Be interesting to see how it plays out in North America.

EDIT:

Research paper on Eurasian Honeybees using the bee-balling defense against The Japanese Yellow Hornet:

We have now observed the European honeybee, Apis mellifera Linnaeus, using similar bee‐balling behavior and heat generation against the Japanese yellow hornet, Vespa simillima xanthoptera Cameron.

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Having just spoken with additional hymenopterists in numerous entomology groups, there is very strong outcry against the NY Times and other news outlets running this story, calling this article highly inappropriate and nothing more than fear-mongering (one by the NY Post included numerous factual misstatements). There have been dozens of false reports and needless killing of native species as a result of this article. I’ll echo their responses for iNat users: please do not contribute to needless killing before having a professional ID, and please do not identify this species in the US unless you have proper training on species diagnosis. There is already a lot of pressure being placed on hymenopterists due to bad journalism, and we absolutely do not need misidentified iNat records contributing to any of this.

Please do not be a part of fear-mongering.

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Cool! Thanks for sharing link!

I don’t even want think about what the media is circulating right now. Media and wasps don’t mix.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmJ1tQOzLMs

The media so far seems to be doing a poor job regarding Vespa mandarina. I came across this video and the thing I realized is how so many clips are NOT of Vespa mandarina even while the whole subject of the video is about that species. This “difference” in the auditory and visual information may result in the general public making the wrong connections (though I don’t know if there is any research regarding how people correlate audio vs visual information).

Here’s the “misidentifications” I found (please correct for mistakes):
0:28 - Thats a beetle
0:34 - Vespa tropica
1:00 - Vespa velutina (same as the video thumbnail)
1:19 - NOT even European honeybees
1:39 - Vespa soror
1:42 - YES for Vespa mandarina
2:07 - Vespa crabro

The truth is the general public will be going to videos such as this, so it is very important that the information should be reiterated with as little bias as possible.

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