National Pest Alert for Yellow-Legged Hornet

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Adult yellow-legged hornets (Vespa velutina) were confirmed in Georgia and South Carolina for the first time in 2023. While this hornet is native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, it has also spread to much of Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia.

Yellow-legged hornet adults consume carbohydrates such as flower nectar, ripening fruit, or tree sap, but the hornet’s larvae require a diet of animal protein. Yellow-legged hornets are known to target Apidae (the insect family including honey bees) to feed their young (Turchi and Derijard, 2018). Hornets often wait outside beehive entrances and pick off honey bees as they come and go from the hive. As the hornet colony grows, the demand for food increases, and aerial assaults can devastate hives.

Even when these hornets do not directly kill a significant number of bees, the hornet’s presence can make bees avoid leaving the hive and cause colonies to decline. The yellow-legged hornet is an important pest because it has the potential to reduce honey production and production of package bees and queens. These hornets could affect pollinator populations, which may also affect production of crops that depend on pollinators. The Georgia Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine, Clemson University and the University of Georgia, is working to eradicate yellow-legged hornets from the area.

Read more at: North Central IPM Center