Should we fight the nests of Asian hornets that appear in the tops of trees with winter?

the essential
No need to attack the hornets’ nests, which are revealed in the tops of the trees with the fall of the leaves. Diurnal birds will attack these nests to feed on the remaining larvae, explains Gaillac entomologist Pascal Polisset.

Since its arrival on the continent, the Asian hornet has been considered an invasive species. “It is a species that gives rise to a lot of fantasies, quite anxiety-inducing. And so it remains dangerous and a bite is painful… But there has never been a death due to Asian hornets,” says Pascal Polisset, entomologist and vice-president of the Office of Insects and their Environment – Midi Pyrenees, based in Gaillac .

“He has been present in France for fifteen years. And if it originally developed along waterways and at altitude, it has since colonized the entire territory”. But don’t attack the wasp nest that you might find in your garden.

With winter and the fall of the leaves, you can easily see large balls, the nests, in the tops of certain trees. But don’t panic. The horn is no longer active, or very little. Moreover, as Pascal Polisset observes from his garden, several birds attack the nest directly: “several species of birds destroy the nest of Asian hornbills to feed on the larvae and other individuals that survive the winter cold in the protection of their shelter. This fact indicates, that after many years birds have “adapted” to the existence of this wasp and now consider it protein-rich food.

Furthermore, the nests thus abandoned will not be inhabited again the following year.

Pioneering and inventive species

The honey buzzard is the only bird capable of directly attacking an Asian hornet nest with adults inside. However, this migratory bird is only present from April to September, and therefore cannot influence the populations of Asian hornbills. On the other hand, other everyday species can attack the nest once winter has set in.

Starling, Goldfinch, Magpie, these are currently the three bird species that Pascal Polisset has seen attacking the hornet’s nest in his garden. With large picks, to recover the larvae during this period of hibernation, causing considerable damage to their habitat. “It was the Goldfinch that attacked it first. It is a pioneer species for discovering new foods, it is inventive. The others followed suit in the days that followed,” observes Pascal Polisset.

A nest that is not very active in winter

A not very active nest therefore, as the future queens from the end of November have already all left their nest to seek shelter in a warmer place. But it appears that some insects remain and overwinter in the cells of the nests.

These females will wake up in the spring. Some of them will be real queens, creating new colonies and thus participating in the spread of this pest. It is remarkable to see birds attacking the remaining larvae, although few in number. “I have installed several automatic feeders in my garden, so there are many birds here,” smiles Pascal Polisset again. These larvae of consumed females in their nest will therefore not create new colonies once spring arrives.

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