In recent weeks, the fire brigade had to go out several times to exterminate a nest of Asian hornets: harmless to humans, but a threat to biodiversity.
The Asian hornet is an invasive exotic, which means that nests must be exterminated. In Brussels, this is done by a team of the fire brigade. “We call the nests that we find now spring nests or primary nests,” says spokesman Walter Derieuw. “We mainly find them in sheltered places, such as gutters or sheds.”
In the summer their nest becomes too small and hornets move to a secondary nest. This can result in hundreds of queens per year, which may explain their advance. In 2022, the fire service destroyed 89 nests, compared to 24 in the previous year. Derieuw cannot yet say how many there will be this year. “But the season has clearly started.”
A sting from the Asian hornet is not dangerous, at least for those who are not allergic. However, such a sting hurts more than a regular wasp sting. “The hornet will only attack if it feels that its nest is under threat,” says Derieuw. The real problem with this insect is that it loves our pollinators: wasps, flies, butterflies, but especially honeybees. “In the autumn, they sometimes hunt in groups to catch many bees at once,” says Derieuw. As a result, not only is biodiversity threatened, but beekeepers are also seeing entire populations die out.
The Asian hornet is quite easy to spot. It is larger than a common wasp, makes a grumbling sound and has black legs with prominent yellow tips. It is more like the European hornet, but it is slightly larger and has a striped abdomen. “If you see one crawling out of its nest, it is best to notify the fire brigade as soon as possible for a free intervention,” Derieuw adds.
This article is originally published on bruzz.be