By Chris King •
Updated: 08 Sep 2023 • 22:17
Image of an Asian hornet.
Credit: Ksarasola/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0
THE detection of the first confirmed specimen of an Asian Hornet in the Valencian Community has caused panic among the region’s beekeepers.
Until now, it had only been detected in Catalan regions but the wasp has now set alarm bells ringing after it crossed the Ebro and entered the Castellón town of Vallibona, according to a report from the Department of Agriculture.
As a result, the implementation of an emergency action protocol has been announced by the Generalitat in an effort to control this insect species, which is a known predator that kills bees.
Following the detection of this invading species – whose scientific name is Vespa velutina – all efforts will be made to control and eradicate: ‘the serious risk posed to the beekeeping sector by this species included in the National Catalogue of Invasive Exotic Species’, insisted the authorities.
They added: ‘This species is at risk of devouring and decimating colonies of bees and other insects. We must take into account the value that hives have due to the role they play in pollination’.
In order to try and prevent the expansion of this insect, the Generalitat highlighted that it has decided to carry out a series of surveillance tasks.
The Valencian beekeeping sector has been affected in recent years by massive imports from third countries, combined with the drought. It received little support from the previous administrations, so this latest discovery has put everybody on alert.
Emergency action protocols have been jointly developed in line with the general directorates of Natural and Animal Environment and Agricultural and Livestock Production, corresponding to the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, respectively.
A spokesperson said that the objective of these actions was: ‘the protection of beekeeping and agriculture in the Valencian Community’, according to lasprovincias.es.
The protocol established: ‘guiding criteria for the control, and, if possible, the eradication of the population of Vespa velutina and the species, as well as the impact in areas where it has been established, with efficient and effective measures, and minimizing at the same time, the effect on the rest of the species’.
These adopted measures also contemplate providing training to municipal staff, forestry agents, veterinarians, beekeepers, ranchers and farmers, related to the Vespa velutina: ‘to ask for their collaboration so that they know how to act in the presence of the wasps and their nests’.
Beekeepers have obviously shown their concern. AVA-Asaja – the Valencian Agricultural Association – assessed the measures established by the Generalitat.
They looked at both the emergency action protocol for its control and eradication and the surveillance work aimed at preventing the spread of this wasp.
A spokesperson from the agrarian organisation explained: ‘As with almost all invasive species, early detection will be key to acting quickly and trying not only to stop its advance but also to eradicate it from our territory because the viability of beekeepers depends on it’.
The entity highlighted the need for the Generalitat to train Valencian beekeepers, through an instruction guide and photographs of the Asian wasp: “so that they can identify its presence and notify the administration as quickly as possible’.
In 2011, after it had expanded to the Basque Country from the south of France, AVA-Asaja warned about the threat of the introduction of this hornet in the Valencian Community.
It called on the central and regional governments to increase vigilance and prepare an action protocol in case the species ended up arriving in a larger quantity.
As the organisation emphasized, beekeepers: ‘have been going through a difficult situation marked by climatic adversities that reduce the bee population and honey production, the entry of massive imports without reciprocity, and low prices at origin’.
‘The irruption of the Asian hornet only adds to the problems of the sector and threatens to be the last straw that accelerates the abandonment of beekeeping, which is essential for the pollination of crops and the maintenance of rural areas’, they warned.
Earlier this summer the first case of Nile fever infection in a human being was also confirmed in the Community. This disease, which is not transmitted from human to human, but is spread by the bite of a mosquito, was discovered in the town of Puçol.
Also in recent weeks in the Community, the first focus of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHE) was detected in the town of Ayora.
Also known as deer hemorrhagic disease, EHE is a non-contagious infectious viral disease transmitted by mosquito vectors that affects wild and domestic ruminant animals, which never spreads to humans.
EHE severely affects deer and can spread between fallow deer and roe deer. In cattle, it can produce a moderate and self-limiting clinical picture for a couple of weeks. Sheep are susceptible to infection but without too many symptoms, while in goats, it is not easy to spread.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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