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Invasive Yellow-Legged Hornet Spotted in Georgia for the First Time

Invasive hornet discovered in Georgia threatens honey production and agriculture industry, state officials ask for sightings to be reported.

Recently, a concerning discovery was made in the United States as an invasive hornet was spotted in Savannah for the first time. State officials are urging Georgians to report any sightings of this insect, known as the yellow-legged hornet. The Georgia Department of Agriculture has expressed concerns that this hornet could pose a threat to honey production, native pollinators, and the state's agriculture industry if it establishes itself in Georgia.

The discovery of the yellow-legged hornet was made by a beekeeper in Savannah during the month of August. The beekeeper promptly reported the sighting to the state agriculture department, who then sought confirmation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The University of Georgia also assisted in identifying the insect as a yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina).

Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper expressed gratitude towards the beekeeper for reporting the sighting and acknowledged the collaborative efforts of the University of Georgia and USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service in swiftly confirming the hornet's identity. He emphasized the importance of Georgians in helping the Georgia Department of Agriculture identify unwanted, non-native pests.

The yellow-legged hornet belongs to the social wasp species and typically constructs egg-shaped paper nests above ground, often in trees. These nests can grow quite large, accommodating an average of 6,000 workers. While native to tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, this hornet has also established itself in various parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia where it is not native.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the USDA and academic experts, is actively developing an operational plan to trap, track, and eradicate the yellow-legged hornet in Georgia. The initial focus will be on trapping, with the USDA and GDA setting out traps and conducting surveys to determine if there are additional yellow-legged hornets in the area. If a colony is discovered through reporting, trapping, or tracking, immediate eradication measures will be taken.

To assist in these efforts, the GDA has updated its website with information about the yellow-legged hornet and a form for reporting sightings. Georgians with any questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out via email to [email protected].

When reporting a sighting, it is helpful to provide the following details if possible:

- Date and time of the sighting
- Location of the sighting (specific address or detailed description)
- Description of the insect (size, color, distinguishing features)
- Any accompanying photographs or videos
- Contact information for the person making the report

By working together and remaining vigilant, Georgians can aid in the identification and eradication of the yellow-legged hornet, safeguarding honey production, native pollinators, and the state's agriculture industry.

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