Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vespa velutina

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Asian predatory wasp

The Asian predatory wasp (Vespa velutina) is a species of hornet which preys on bees. It is a little bit smaller than the European hornet. The queens may be 30 mm, the males to 24 mm; the workers are about 20 mm.[1] It has characteristic yellow legs. It is native to China.

Hornets build nests, with several thousand individuals associated with one nest.[2] Females of all species of hornets have stingers with which they kill their prey and defend their nests.

It has become an invasive species in France where it is believed to have arrived in boxes of pottery from China in 2004.[3] Since then the wasp has been preying on honeybees. Humans have been attacked after disturbing hornets; although the species is not aggressive it "charges in a group as soon as it feels its nest is threatened".[2] There have been reports of people hospitalised in France after suffering anaphylactic shock as a result of multiple stings. Because of hornets' larger size, their sting is more serious than that of a bee.[3]

By 2009 it was thought there were several thousand nests in the area of Bordeaux (capital of the Aquitaine region) and surrounding départements.

The wasp has spread to northern Spain, as confirmed by the Beekeepers Association of the Basque Country (Gipuzkoako Erlezainen Elkartea) and the Neiker etimology institute in Irún, after breeding colonies were found.[4] It has reached Portugal in 2011.[5] Also reported as naturalised for the last 3 years or so on the Japanese island of Tsushima.[6]

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