The invention of innovative technology to track Asian hornets and locate their nests

Until then more or less spared by the Asian hornet, Switzerland is also becoming a resort for its formidable bee predators. While the country only knew about the Asian hornet from the media, it is now starting to settle in Switzerland. Global warming or adaptation of the insect to cooler climates, the cause is still unknown, but the Swiss firefighters have already had to deal with the removal of two nests in the city of Geneva itself. Two nests of around 3,000 individuals, which the Swiss authorities do not intend to develop. We now know that we can no longer eradicate it, but only prevent it from developing en masse. Swiss researchers are at the start of make new Asian hornet trapsand we present to you their first invention.

The Swiss helpless before the Asian hornet.

In France, where he arrived in 2004, we now know how to recognize him and many traps have appeared for almost 20 years. Each trap may work differently, but all aiming to destroy the nests, source of birth for monstrous colonies of Asian hornets. In the small town of Pregny-Chambésy, the inhabitants observed infested beehives, but were also themselves victims of attacks by Asian hornets. They then warned the firemen * to overcome the nest of attackers. A craft hunt was then organized, but it was relatively ineffective. *In France, firefighters do not go after Asian hornet or wasp nests, it is necessary to call in specialized companies.

An abandoned Asian hornet nest in winter. Illustrative photo not contractual. Credit: Shutterstock

What is this “Swiss” trap?

After the failed craft hunt, the specialists chose to rely on high technology and to use tiny radio transmitters to be placed directly on the Asian hornets to track them to the nest. To install the tracers on the animal, the specialists capture them and then put them to sleep with crushed ice for seven minutes. Then they have at most one more minute tie the tracker around the horn’s abdomen, with a simple sewing thread before the animal wakes up. Currently, the transmitter weighs 250 milligrams, almost the same weight as the insect they are supposed to help escape. But it works, hornets return to the nest and humans can now find out where they live!

The rest takes place in the nest.

The Swiss firefighters and in particular Staff Sgt Philip Griess, who has been specially trained in the destruction of nests, intervenes on Asian hornets’ nests with the help of a long pole eighteen meters long, explains the site 20min.ch. At the upper end of the rod there is a kind of pierced harpoon which must perforate the nest. At the bottom end, a trigger that will send sulfur dioxide into the nest to exterminate enemies!

PILP Long Range Insecticide Gun
The PILP long-range insecticide gun Non-contractual illustration photo. Credit: Shutterstock

Firefighters intervened in the evening maximizing their chances to kill as many as possible, obviously dressed in full suits. All they have to do is take down the nest and then destroy it with fire. As for dead hornets, many specimens are being recovered by Swiss botanists who will study them to begin developing new Asian hornet traps. The Swiss authorities look very much towards France, which has known the Asian hornet for almost 20 years and where there are many traps to protect the hives from Asian hornets.

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