Rural – Jersey Country Life Magazine

ASIAN HORNET WARNING FOR BLACKBERRY PICKERS


ISLANDERS are urged to keep an eye out for Asian hornets when picking blackberries, gardening, or preparing for the Branchage, following the discovery of a number of nests.

Nests have been found in bramble patches as well as in the ground and under shrubbery in several locations including Howard Davis Park, St Clement and St Brelade.

Alastair Christie, the Government of Jersey’s Asian Hornet Coordinator, said: “While individual hornets are not generally a risk, there is a real danger of being stung if a nest is disturbed. Nests low-down in hedges, in the ground and in blackberry patches present the greatest risk of being disturbed and it is well known that Asian hornets may defend their nest area.

“A disturbed nest may have serious consequences, so I would urge people to be vigilant, cautious, and report any possible sightings of Asian hornets.

“Last year, a farmer carrying out the Branchage was stung six times after his hedge cutter struck a nest in the ground. Fortunately, the farmer only experienced mild swelling from the stings. However, for a small percentage of people – particularly if they are allergic to wasp, bee and hornet stings – an Asian hornet sting may have far more serious consequences.”

The advice for anyone working outdoors in their gardens, carrying out Branchage, or picking blackberries is to check the area before starting work. If you see any unusual insect activity stop work immediately, stay well back, assess the situation and report any potential Asian hornet sightings to the Asian hornet co-ordinator who will provide appropriate advice.

This year, 33 Asian hornet nests have been discovered compared to 48 at the same time last year. It is thought that, while the wet winter will not have suited hibernating queen hornets, with many succumbing to fungal diseases, the reduced numbers also indicate that the control measures being taken to actively track hornet nests and destroy them are keeping the population at manageable levels.

Mr Christie said: “The reduction in nest numbers is encouraging, but we will not know the true picture until later on in the year. There is no room for complacency. The Jersey Asian Hornet Group volunteers are doing an incredible job of following up reported sightings, setting baits, and tracking the hornets back to their nests.”

Anyone who suspects that they have seen an Asian hornet or a nest can report it by emailing asianhornet@gov.je, attaching a photo if possible. You can also call Mr Christie on 441633, or download the free Asian Hornet Watch App.

For more information about Asian hornets, how to identify and report them, visit gov.je/asianhornet.

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