PEST control experts have undergone training in France as part of the Jersey’s (UK) fight against Asian hornets and have come back with special suits to protect them from the aggressive insects.
As well as sending experts for training in Normandy, the Environment Department has bought two extra-thick suits and long lances to inject insecticide into nests.
The invasive pest delivers a very painful sting that can be fatal to humans, with six deaths in France since the insect arrived in Marseilles in 2004.
The Environment Department is working with the Jersey Beekeepers’ Association to halt the insect’s colonisation of the Island as queens prepare to establish new colonies before the onset of winter.
A fortnight ago beekeeper Tim du Feu and staff from two local pest control companies visited Normandy where 900 hornets’ nests have been destroyed this summer.
The department has bought two of the extra-thick suits and equipment designed to destroy nests – which can contain up to 6,000 hornets – so that they can be safely removed from trees or outbuildings.
‘We underwent training in St Lô in the La Manche department of Normandy with French officials who are dealing with the Asian hornet,’ Mr du Feu said.
‘This included learning how to use equipment designed to destroy the nests. It comprises a 13 metre-long lance to fire insecticide into the nest. They are not taking risks when they use this equipment so the pest controllers wear 8 mm thick suits as the hornets sting in 6 mm long.’
Environment has also invested in 100 hornet traps to place around the ten sites where nests have been found this year to try to catch queens before they go into hibernation later this month, ready to establish new colonies next spring.
The first Asian hornet arrived in Jersey in August 2016 and the first nest was found at Fliquet in June this year. Since 2004 it has spread across France, reaching St Malo in 2011, and into Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Italy. It poses a major threat to honey bees as a single hornet can kill up to 50 bees in one day.