By Sarah Keane • 08 April 2021 • 13:28
VELUTINA: Predatory Asian hornet. Photo credit: Shutterstock
The ‘killer wasp’ continues to spread across Spain at an alarming rate.
THE fearsome velutina Asian wasp continues to wreak havoc across Spain after being first discovered back in 2005, and the spread of this dangerous plague shows no signs of slowing down. Having first being carried to Europe in a cargo ship from eastern China that docked in the French post of Bordeaux, the predator continues to threaten native bees and other pollinating insects in Spain, causing a worrying ecological imbalance.
While not considered especially dangerous to humans as they tend to avoid stinging unless threatened, the Vespa velutina nigritorax, also known as the Asian hornet, has actually caused the deaths of a dozen people in the last three years. Additionally, in large numbers, the velutinas are capable of killing 12 million bees each year, amounting to 3,000 beehives. These wasps are now on the List of Exotic Species of Concern of the European Union.
Experts were of the opinion that while the wasps are in Spain to stay, after an initial period of expansion, their numbers should have begun to stabilise somewhat; however, the species continues to expand some 60 kilometres in every direction throughout Europe each year, according to Spanish daily Informacion.
Galicia is the region with the highest number of velutinas, with more than 15,000 nests removed in 2019 alone. Back in 2018, experts in Mallorca came close to eradicating the species altogether through a three-year initiative aimed at capturing the founding queens. There are currently several initiatives underway across Spain which are investigating biological control methods, but until these projects are completed, the best way of controlling the wasps remains trapping and neutralising the existing nests.
Of course, these Asian wasps aren’t the only pests we have to contend with in Spain, and with the summer season around the corner, expats and Spaniards are gearing up to do battle with the usual suspects: mosquitoes, cockroaches, blackflies and many more undesirable creepy crawlies.
The Disinfection and Pest Control Company have advised that avoiding artificial water bodies, which are optimal areas for the mosquito aquatic larval phase to develop, can reduce contact with regular mosquitoes. Tiger mosquitoes, on the other hand, can even breed in small puddles of water that build up in plant pots, and are so much more difficult to avoid.
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Former teacher and health services manager with a Degree in English, Sarah moved to Spain from Southern Ireland with her husband, who runs his own car rental business, in 2019. She is now enjoying a completely different pace and quality of life on the Costa Blanca South, with wonderful Spanish and expat friends in Cabo Roig. Sarah began working with Euro Weekly News in 2020 and loves nothing more than bringing all the latest national and international news to her local community.
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