Invasive hornet species spotted in Georgia for first time, officials advise caution

SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it has detected an invasive species of hornet that until now hasn’t been spotted in the wild in the United States.

A beekeeper in Savannah made the discovery earlier this month, noticing a yellow-legged hornet. Officials said that if this hornet establishes in Georgia, it could threaten honey production, native pollinators and agriculture.

Now, the GDA is asking for the public to help spot these hornets.

“Georgians play an important role helping GDA identify unwanted, non-native pests, and I want to thank the beekeeper who reported his sighting to us, as well as our partners at the University of Georgia and USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service for working swiftly to confirm its identity,” said Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. “Our experienced team of professionals will continue to assess the situation and are working directly with USDA APHIS and UGA to trap, track, and eradicate the yellow-legged Hornet in Georgia. "

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Officials said the yellow-legged hornet is a social wasp species that builds egg-shaped paper nests, often in trees. These nests can become huge, with an average of 6,000 workers.

The yellow-legged hornet is native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, according to officials.

The GDA said its team of Pest Program scientists, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and academic experts are developing an ‘operational plan to trap, track, and eradicate the yellow-legged hornet in Georgia.’

Officials said yellow-legged hornets can be dangerous, and advised caution in the event of a sighting.


Georgians with additional questions or concerns are encouraged to email the Georgia Department of Agriculture at yellow.legged.hornet@agr.georgia.gov.

Here is what to include with your report:

• Your name and contact information.

• The location of the sighting.

• Date of sighting.

• If you can, safely take photograph(s) of the hornet (we generally can only confirm a report with a photo or specimen).

• Location and approximate height of the nest if found (Is it in a tree? Approximately how high is the nest?).

• If you have no photo, please include a description of the size of the insect, the color of the head and body, and what it was doing.

• Description of the hive loss/damage (if no photo is available).

• The direction the hornet(s) flew when flying away.

Officials said there are many domestic lookalikes that we have here in the United States who do not pose a threat to honeybees.

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