Asian hornet (also killer wasp), velutin vespaWith the arrival of the heat, it threatens the population and animals again. Arriving in Spain 12 years ago, this invasive exotic species spread at an alarming rate in the early years. In fact, very few places in Spain are completely free of this deadly insect, whose bite can be deadly. But another thing is that this species, which appears to be confined to the northern part of the peninsula, has a permanent presence throughout the country.
The number of deaths in Spain between 2019-2021 increased to 7.. In our country, there were three more deaths in 2019 and three more deaths in 2020, despite the quarantine. Galicia and Asturias account for 100% of these deaths, as the autonomies most affected by this plague were not in vain.
All these deaths occurred when these people unintentionally got too close to the Asian hornet nests. It is a very territorial species that does not hesitate to defend its nest in case of attack.
It is estimated that this species causes 90% of all wasp stings in areas where its presence is greatest. «About 3% of the population suffer from allergic reactions. It is commonly found by wasps and bee venom, and the annual mortality rate is estimated at 0.08 per million people, which some three or four people may die from it each year», recently announced Berta Ruiz, chair of the Hymenoptera Allergy Committee of the Spanish Society of Allergology and Immunology (SEAIC).
How far has this bumblebee really advanced in Spain?
According to the portal avispasiatica.org, which updates information on the presence of this species in Spain, by 2029 the Asian wasp will have colonized the entire Peninsula, Ceuta, Melilla and the Balearic Islands. Only the Canary Islands would be excluded from this invasion.
Again, experts are split on its actual expansion on the Peninsula., since some assure that they are all occupied by this insect, others point out that it is currently confined to the north, possibly before reaching Zamora or lesser Madrid. One thing is that isolated specimens can be seen anywhere and at any time, and another is that there are firmly established colonies throughout the region.
Alfonso Balmori, a biologist with the Junta de Castilla y León, “the general view was that he would colonize almost the entire Peninsula” a few years ago, but admits the idea is nuanced. “This species has very strict climatic constraints to expand its breeding range.” According to the current distribution map.
“Of course, although there are specimens of the species in much of the Peninsula, they do not settle due to these climatic challenges (especially winter frosts on the northern plateau and prolonged drought on the southern plateau).” adds Balmori. “I don’t think this species could expand much further on the Peninsula than it already has,” he concludes.
This Community of Madrid, for its part, seems to confirm this thesis. The Ministry of Environment states that “no presence of Asian hornets has been detected” there. “We also highly doubt that there are plateau regions where these specimens are found, since according to our knowledge they have not yet entered from the Cantabrian coast or from Galicia. Maybe you are already in the Bierzo region, but No word on Leon or Zamora breaking into the rest.From Galicia” they add from the Community of Madrid.
threat to bees
The killer wasp is also a real threat to bees that are already affected by other enemies such as pesticides or climate change. In fact, this hornet destroys all hives.
According to the Center for Ecological Research and Forest Practices (CREAF), “It is estimated that a single wasp can catch between 25 and 50 bees per day. They take advantage of their much larger size to scare and kill them with a jaw blow. They separate their body parts, assemble them into balls, and carry their larvae to the nest to feed. When the workers disappear, they enter the hive and finish the honey”.
In addition, this entity is rapidly expanding in Spain, thanks to its “large capacity to reproduce and disperse new colonists. With a single queen, the nest is already developed and can have up to 15,000 cells. if we consider that each founder of a new nest can produce 500 new queens per yearIt is understandable that the increase in their population is so fast,” he said.
This velutin vespa According to the avispasiatica.org portal, our country is expanding from north to south at a rate of 100 kilometers per year. According to the aforementioned website, currently the frontier of its forward guards will be located in the southernmost part of Zamora and in the isolated areas of Extremadura. However, there are numerous sightings by citizens beyond these areas.
Two years ago, the Islands Government The Balearic Islands announced this autonomy as the first region in Europe to exterminate the killer wasp. although it was far from the expansion area, it had already established itself in Mallorca. However, avispasiatica.org believes that the Balearic Government “beats the bells too fast” and thinks that more “prudent” action should be taken.
“Caution, because there may be Asian wasps in Mallorca, either in the Serra de Tramuntana or in other inaccessible areas. We are wary of the experience we have in other regions where it seems controlled and has rebounded quickly,” they point out.
How is the killer wasp?
The 17 to 32 millimeter long Asian hornet is characterized by having an all-black thorax and black abdomens with a yellow trim. Only the fourth part of the abdomen is completely yellow or orange. The head is black with a yellow or orange face and the legs are brown with yellow tips.
They can build large, spherical nests., with an entrance hole on the side and the cells are not visible from below. Usually on tops of trees (especially on alder, chestnut, walnut, apple, cherry or eucalyptus trees) and sometimes even on buildings, stairs, barns, etc. are found in protected areas.
Various studies are currently being conducted, some of which are particularly promising, aimed at combating this species, based on biological control. But unless there are effective systems, the only form of control is capture and nest neutralization.
What to do if it bites us?
The stings are very painful, but no more dangerous than domestic wasps. Most people who are attacked show local symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in the area where the venom has penetrated, which disappear within a few days.
The affected area should be cleaned with soap and water and ice or cold water applied.. In the first moments, you can try to denature the sting of the components of the venom using heat.
Symptoms such as generalized itching, increase in body temperature, decrease in blood pressure, respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, nervous symptoms, glottis edema may occur in allergic individuals.
In the case of multiple bites, venom inoculation can be very high. and also causes general symptoms such as fainting, intense headache, fever. In these cases, the damage can be significant even if there was no previous allergy.
If you experience general symptoms after an attack, you should remain calm but immediately call 911 or go to a medical center to seek appropriate treatment, as these symptoms are very serious and can cause anaphylactic shock. .
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