Experts rush to halt invasive hornet’s spread in Georgia

With yellow-legged hornet nests discovered in Georgia, experts are working to stop the bee-eating insect's spread across the Peach State.
Published: Nov. 2, 2023 at 2:39 PM EDT
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WATKINSVILLE, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -Researchers at The University of Georgia are teaming up with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the USDA to eradicate the yellow-legged hornet.

Researchers are in the lab studying larvae and pieces of their nests found outside of Savannah.

Researcher Lewis Bartlett said this invasive species likely came to Savannah on a container ship. They are an imminent threat to the state’s number agriculture industry.

One yellow-legged hornet is capable of killing an entire colony of honey bees.


“These hornets will intercept bees mid-flight and they will hover outside of entrances and intercept the bees when they’re head home. They are disrupting the beekeeping operations drastically,” said Bartlett.

Three more nests were found in Georgia over the weekend, bringing the total found to five. Crews found the nests thanks to reports from beekeepers. Teams were able to track individual hornets with a radio backpack. A lone hornet can lead a team to a hive of thousands.

“We’ve pinned the hornets to the coast rather successfully and now it’s up to the beekeepers of Georgia- they are the number one weapon for next year,” said Bartlett.

Teams don’t suspect the hornets have mated and produced next year’s offspring. The yellow-legged hornet has spread through Europe, but Bartlett has hope Georgia will be the first to eradicate the hornets.

If you think that you see a yellow-legged hornet, you can record a video or take a picture and submit it to the Department of Agriculture.