A yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina), which poses a threat to honeybees and other pollinators, was recently detected near Savannah, Georgia. This is the first time a live specimen of this species has been detected in the United States. Its presence was confirmed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) and the University of Georgia (UGA).
GDA is working with USDA APHIS and UGA to trap, track and eradicate the yellow-legged hornet. It is asking Georgians to report sightings of the hornet using this online reporting form. Those making a sighting outside of Georgia should report it to a local Extension agency or department of agriculture, not on this form.
“We urge the public to be cautious in the event they come across a suspected yellow-legged hornet,” GDA stated. “If you can safely take a photo of the suspected yellow-legged hornet, we encourage you to do so to assist us with identification.”
There are many domestic lookalikes that are native to the United States and do not pose a threat to honeybees. Many of them are valuable pollinators.
The yellow-legged hornet isnative to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia. It is generally smaller than the northern giant hornet (NGH). Workers can be around half the size of an NGH, and queens can be around three-fourths the size. The legs are partially or primarily yellow. The body and head coloration can vary. This hornet is a social wasp species that constructs egg-shaped paper nests above the ground, often in trees. Nests can become large, housing an average of 6,000 workers.
The yellow-legged hornet feeds on a variety of insects. If allowed to establish in the United States, this invasive species could threaten honey production and the native pollinators that play a vital role in agriculture.
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