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Government declares war on Asian Hornet invasion

Published on 02/02/2019

The Secretary of State for Forestry and Rural Development has declared war on the Asian hornet and published an order in Diário da República on Friday to fund municipalities for the destruction of nests.

A national campaign to destroy vespa velutina will benefit farmers between €25 and €100 for each nest destroyed.

Each of Portugal’s municipalities can access up to €10,000 for the destruction of the nests, although this can be increased in heavily infested areas.

The hornets build their nests in trees, inside tree trunks, in chimneys and in electricity poles.

The number of vespa velutina has been increasing in recent years, causing damage in the apicultural, agricultural and forestry sectors.

The Government aims to minimise the impact of the hornets by, “taking advantage of this time of year, so that the Permanent Forestry Fund can provide national support for an intense campaign against this insect.”

Like other hornets, vespa velutina builds nests that may house colonies of several thousand individuals. Females are armed with formidable stingers with which they defend their nests and kill their prey. The nest is of paper, roughly in the shape of a large egg, at least half a metre in length.

The major concern about their invasiveness however, is that when they find a bee colony or an apiary, they tend to settle down and specialise in honeybees as their prey. A hornet occupies a position above a beehive as its hunting territory. It flies about within an area of about half a square metre, scanning the direction from which foraging bees return to the hive. Each hornet vigorously defends its hunting territory, chasing off any rivals. However, as soon as it catches a bee it flies off and another hornet replaces it, usually within a few seconds.