Tracking devices attached to Asian Hornets

4 July 2018, 14:21 | Updated: 4 July 2018, 14:25

Tagged insect

Electronic radio tags could be used to track invasive Asian hornets and stop them killing honeybees.

For the first time, Scientists from the University of Exeter have attached tiny tags to Asian hornets, then used a tracking device to follow them to their nests. 

They tested the technique in southern France and Jersey and say it could be used here in the future. 

''Our new method of tracking offers a really important new tool to tackle the spread of this invader, providing an efficient means of finding hornets’ nests in urban, rural and wooded environments,'' said lead researcher Dr Peter Kennedy, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall. 

Asian hornets prey on honeybees and other pollinators, and the scientists say the technique demonstrated in their study could help protect Britain’s beleaguered pollinator populations. 

''It is vital to find the nests early in the season to prevent the hornet spreading, as later in the year hundreds of new queens emerge and disperse from each nest, each with the potential to make new nests,'' said Professor Juliet Osborne, a co-author on the study, and Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute. 

The work was funded as part of Defra’s efforts to prepare for future outbreaks of the Asian hornet in the UK.