The Balearic University’s zoology laboratory has confirmed that the Asian hornet has been detected in Majorca for the first time.
The detection has been made thanks to the cooperation of beekeepers in Soller, the only part of the island where the hornet has so far been noted.
The Asian hornet originates from south-east Asia and was first detected in Europe (in France) in 2004, being spotted in Spain (in Navarre) for the first time in 2010. Up until now it has also been discovered in the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, La Rioja and Castile and Leon. It is not clear how it arrived in Europe, but it is believed to have been through horticultural export from China to France.
The hornet presents a serious threat to beekeeping, with economic damage being caused through the loss of hives and through a depletion in the number of honey bees and other pollinators. Recent studies indicate that the hornet is not particularly aggressive towards humans. But the university is asking that if any beekeepers detect the hornet, they should contact the zoology laboratory by email: Mar.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The worker hornets are between 1.7 and 3.2 centimetres long and are easy to spot: the head is black but the face is yellowy-orange. The final part of the legs are also yellow. The abdomen is brown with some orange bands. They live predominantly in mountainous regions, though lately they have been detected in urban areas. The queen can reach 3.5 centimetres in length.
The adults feed off nectar and ripe fruit, while the young are preferably fed by honey bees and other insects. August and September are the months when they are at their most predatory.