• Site updated 04/09/2019

New weapon against the Asian hornet

Dr Xesús Feás and his team are successful in creating a new weapon against the Asian hornet.

Dr Xesús Feás is a scientific researcher with a keen interest in the observation of the invasive Vespa velutina var nigrithorax (Lepelletier, 1835) Asian hornet and investigating methods for controlling the species.​

We are happy to announce that the Vespa velutina sexual pheromones, the 4-oxo-octanoic acid (4-OOA) and the 4-oxo-decanoic acid (4-ODA), were successfully synthetized in Campus Terra (University of Santiago de Compostela) by the team composed by Dr. Xesús Feás, Dr. Prof. Pilar Vázquez-Tato and Dr. Prof. Julio Seijas. The research carried out was funded by Deputación de A Coruña.

He believes that the best place to start testing would be in the Channel Islands.

Dr Feás a member of The Velutina Task Force of COLOSS Association recently gave a talk at a conference at University degli Studi di Torino on Vespa velutina and other invasive invertebrates species during 21, 22 and 23 of March 2019. The event was organized by the LIFE StopVespa Project and the Velutina Task Force of COLOSS Association and a lecture for the British Beekeepers Association at Harper Adams University in Shropshire entitled “The Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax): an exotic predator in Europe. What does the future hold?” on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April. Where he discussed his work and recent research conducted by Wen, Ping et al. (“The sex pheromone of a globally invasive honey bee predator, the Asian eusocial hornet, Vespa velutina”. 2017. Scientific Reports, 12956, 7) showed evidence for Vespa velutina gyne-produced sex attractant pheromones that mediate attraction of males.  

More information can be found here – https://www.vespavelutina.co.uk/vespavelutinanews/dr-xesus-feas-and-his-team-are-successful-in-creating-a-new-weapon-against-the-asian-hornet?fbclid=IwAR3uMPJzcSORk4UntqEfCLtnrUqe0VtWbeJgqTOyJsk7xjkaw-FaYLP1onI

The Vespa velutina aka Asian hornet.

            The “Asian hornet” [Vespa velutina Lepeletier 1836 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)] is naturally distributed in Southeast Asia, India and China, however it was first detected outside of their native range in South Korea during 2003 and later in France in 2004.  The Vespa velutina is soon to be recognized as a Pan-European threat later being detected in other areas (Spain in 2010, Portugal in 2011, Belgium in 2011, Italy in 2012, Germany in 2014, Netherlands in 2018, Majorca in Balearic Islands in 2015 and England and Channel Islands in 2016).

            Much of the feeding of the Asian hornet colonies is based on bees and other insects, and although the impact they may have on the wild insect population is still unknown, it has become a major threat to beekeeping and to the pollination service. However Vespa velutina is not only an issue for beekeepers. Other productive sectors (forestry, fruit growing and viticulture) human health and social activities, both in rural areas and cities, have been affected to a greater or lesser extent.          

            Although the destruction of Vespa velutina nests is the most effective measure to control the expansion and damage of the species, one of the most used methods at present is the trapping of specimens, based on the placement of entomological traps, which also allows collect information to know the presence, distribution and evolution of the species.

Sex Pheromone Lure

            Insect pheromones are used as messengers that affect the insect behaviour. One of them are the Sex Pheromones, to attract adults of the opposite sex for mating. Insect pheromone is famous of its high efficiency, non-toxicity, no pollution, no harm insects and other advantages. Pheromones can be used to control different lives phases of pests in the following aspects:

            Monitoring: Detecting the presence of the mating period, indicating the level of infestation and evaluating the most suitable treatment and application time.

            Mass trapping: Capturing the highest number of insects in a trap to reduce or eliminate damages caused.

            Mating disruption: Impeding the encounter between both sexes by creating an atmosphere. In normal mate location, the female releases pheromone and the males flies towards the source. In mating disruption, pheromone is released from dispensers that act as false sources, or pheromone is release at such a high rate that the male is disoriented or unable to detect the plume of the calling female.

What is the Vespa velutina Sex Pheromone Lure?

It is a rubber dispenser containing the species-specific sex pheromone released by the virgin Vespa velutinagynes (reproductive females).

What chemicals contain?

The active compounds in the rubber are 4-oxo-octanoic acid (4-OOA) and 4-oxo-decanoic acid (4-ODA).

Were tested?

Yes. Scientific literature showed that male antennae were highly sensitive to (4-OOA) and (4-ODA). Moreover, males were strongly attracted to a 0.78 ratio of 4-OOA/4-ODA in field experiments.

When to use the Sex Pheromone Lure?

Before initiating a sampling campaign, the goal of the action should be very clear. Also, aspects as coverage and intensity of the sampling in time and space, practical issues, treatment of material before preparation and logistics, and the handling of possible by-catches or residue samples should be taken into account prior to the start of the campaign.

According the Vespa velutina biological cycle, Sex Pheromone Lures should be used at reproductive phase of the colony, just before first sexual individuals appears. In late summer the queen starts to produce reproductive females and males. These are males and new queens. It should be the time to use the Vespa velutina Sex Pheromone Lure.

We have attached some images that you can use providing credits are given to their original source.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Scientific research on the invasive Vespa velutina Asian hornet

Prof. Xesús Feás

University of Santiago de Compostela

+34 630 186 820

Rebecca Charles +44 7565 620 275

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