Invasive honeybee-eating hornets with stings that can be toxic have been found on Vancouver Island for the first time, says the B.C. government.
According to a B.C. Ministry of Agriculture press release, three large insects, Asian giant hornets, were found in Nanaimo, on central Vancouver Island, in August. They are well-known to prey on honeybees and are capable of destroying hives in a short time period. However, the hornets are dormant and unlikely to be seen in the autumn and winter months, the press release said.
People who encounter an Asian giant hornet nest are asked not to disturb it, said the ministry.
“Asian giant hornets do not seek out human food and feed on insects only,” the press release said. “If a nest of hornets is encountered, do not disturb the nest or the hornets and leave the area. Stings are rare, but may occur if their nest is disturbed. Due to the larger amount of venom injected, a sting from an Asian giant hornet can be very painful and cause localized swelling, redness and itching.”
The ministry recommends that people who are stung by the hornet compress ice or a cold pack on the affected area in order to reduce inflammation and stop the venom from spreading. People are asked not to rub the wound, as that will lead to the venom moving to surrounding tissue, the ministry said.
The press release also warned that people who are stung 10 times or more are at risk of developing toxic or allergic reactions, which can include dizziness. If this occurs, seek immediate medical help, the ministry said.
The ministry is investigating how it can assist beekeepers with surveillance and trapping equipment in the spring, should other hornets emerge from their dormancy or be introduced to the area.
Asian giant hornets are large-headed and can be orange, yellow and brown in colour, said the ministry. Worker hornets are about 3.5 centimetres in length, while queens are known to be four to five cm in length, with a wingspan between four to seven cm, it said.
To find out more about the effects of insect stings, click here.
People who think they’ve come across the hornets can contact the Invasive Species Council of B.C. at 1-888-933-3722, through the council’s Report Invasives mobile phone app or at www.bcinvasives.ca/report.