On Sept. 20, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper announced, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University of Georgia (UGA), the discovery and destruction of a second yellow-legged hornet’s nest on Wilmington Island near Savannah. The yellow-legged hornet is a non-native species that, if allowed to establish in the United States, could threaten honey production, native pollinators, and Georgia’s No. 1 industry — agriculture.
The first U.S. live detection of a yellow-legged hornet was confirmed in Georgia on Aug. 9. Shortly after, on Aug. 23, a yellow-legged hornet’s nest was located and destroyed by Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) staff and pest management professionals in a residential neighborhood on Wilmington Island.
The second nest was discovered by GDA staff under a bridge on Wilmington Island on Sept. 15. It was eradicated that evening by the same crew of pest management professionals who assisted with the eradication of the first nest.
After eradication, Lewis Bartlett from UGA and Jamie Ellis from the University of Florida examined the nest. They identified developing hornets within the nest and confirmed there was no evidence of the production of reproductive males or queens within the colony at the time of destruction.
UGA scientists have sequenced the genetics of hornets from the first nest, and evidence suggests these hornets originated in Asia. DNA samples were taken from the second nest, and genetic analysis of these samples is ongoing.
GDA has two teams of four deployed in the Savannah area that are actively trapping and surveying for additional nests. These teams have placed 134 traps in the area around the initial detection. So far, confirmed detections of the yellow-legged hornet have been made in 12 separate locations around Wilmington Island, Whitemarsh Island and Thunderbolt, Georgia.
Since the initial detection, USDA has provided GDA with additional operating funds to continue eradication and outreach efforts. The yellow-legged hornet partnership has expanded to include Clemson University and the University of Florida.
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