The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), in coordination with the USDA and the University of Georgia, announced the confirmation of the non-native Yellow-Legged Hornet (Vespa velutina) in Savannah, Georgia on the 9th of August. This is the first confirmed sighting of this hornet in Georgia. The Yellow-Legged Hornet is originally from Southeast Asia and can be found in France and Western Europe. The presence of this hornet poses a risk to honeybees and other pollinators in the state. Also, just like any other stinging insect, the Yellow-Legged Hornet is a sting risk for people and pets, especially anyone who suffers from allergic anaphylaxis.
The Yellow-Legged Hornet is a wasp species that build nests above ground, often in trees, that can become large enough to house about 6,000 workers. The adults grow to be about 2cm long with a narrow waist, yellow stripe on fourth abdominal segment, and yellow color on the bottom half of its legs.
The GDA, USDA, and UGA scientists are developing plans to track, trap, and eradicate the invasive intruder. The GDA’s website has been updated to provide more information about the hornet and ways to report potential sightings. Be advised that there are domestic wasp species that look very similar to the Yellow-Legged Hornet that are beneficial to the ecosystem, so the USDA has a photo gallery available on their website of the Yellow-Legged Hornet lookalikes.
For more information you can contact your local UGA Extension office. Madison County Extension phone: 706-795-2281 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.