SAVANNAH, Ga. (WFLA) – The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is warning people to look out for an invasive hornet species closely related to the Asian giant hornet, also known as the “murder hornet,” after it was spotted in the state earlier this month.
A yellow-legged hornet was discovered near Savannah, marking the first time this hornet species has been detected in the United States, and according to officials, the hornet poses a threat to honeybees and other pollinators in Georgia.
“These pollinators play a significant role in Georgia’s agriculture industry, the state’s main economic driver, and it is imperative that these invasive pests are tracked and eradicated,” the GDA stated.
Native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, the yellow-legged hornet is generally smaller than the Northern Giant Hornet. The species can also be found in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of Asia, but it’s not native to those areas, CBS News reported.
According to the GDA, this hornet is a “special wasp species” that constructs egg-shaped paper nests above the ground and in trees. The nets can become large, housing about 6,000 workers.
The GDA said the hornet can not only be dangerous, but the “species could threaten honey production and Georgia’s native pollinators.” The state agency said they’re working with the USDA and the University of Georgia to “trap, track, and eradicate these pests.”
Authorities are asking the public for in reporting sightings of the yellow-legged hornet but remind people that there are domestic lookalikes that pose no danger to honeybees. They’re also warning citizens to be cautious if they happen to come across one.
Anyone in Gregoria who believes they may have seen a yellow-legged hornet in their area is asked to complete a report form online. The reporting form can be found here.
If you are not in Georgia but suspect you saw the invasive hornet, you can report your sighting to your local extension agency or the Department of Agriculture.