Asian hornet: what to do in case of a bite?

2023-05-16 09:37:32

Difference with the ‘classic’ hornet, care and prevention… To react well in the event of an Asian hornet sting, we tell you everything.

Like the wasp, the bee or the bumblebee, the Asian hornet belongs to the family of Hymenoptera. This is mostly the difference between Asian hornet (vespa velutina) and European (vespa crabro) which makes it possible to recognize one and the other. The Asian is a little smaller: he measures on average 2.5 cm (against 3 cm for the European). And if the European hornet looks like a large black and yellow wasp, the Asian hornet has a darker, uniform color. It must also be distinguished from giant hornet which measures more than 5 cm and whose venom is much more toxic … but whose presence has not yet been observed in Europe.

The Asian hornet is considered a dangerous species for several reasons. Feeding on ripe fruits, nectar and other insects (bees, butterflies, diptera, wasps…), the Asian hornet represents a threat to beekeeping and biodiversity. What is also worth to him to be considered as a invasive alien species of concern by the European Union.

Where do Asian hornets live?

The 1is report of an Asian hornet in France dates from 2004, in Lot-et-Garonne. Since then, the insect has acclimatized and colonized the whole country. Today, it is present almost everywhere, as well in Spain as in the Netherlands, in Portugal, in Italy, in Germany, in Belgium.

You may also be interested in asian hornet nests, quite easily recognizable. Insects often build them from mid-March, at low height – at ground level or at the height of a man – and sheltered from the rain. If this nest turns out to be too small, it is not uncommon for Asian hornets to build a secondary nest, more imposing, and generally installed higher up. And if we spot a hornet’s nest in his garden ? No need to hope to get rid of it alone because it is very dangerous, it is better to consult your town hall so that it directs to a pro. Today, Asian hornets are found everywhere in France, both in town and in the countryside.

Asian hornets are only aggressive when they feel threatened. The Asian hornet has the particularity of having a robust stinger, capable of passing through particularly thick tissue… Like the sting of bees, the symptoms following the sting are redness and slight swelling. If the sting of the hornet is not more dangerous, it is on the other hand more painful because the dose of venom injected is greater and the sting harder. And the pain felt when you are stung by an Asian hornet can last up to several days… To identify it, there is no need to look for a stinger to identify the sting because – unlike the bee – the hornet does not lose its sting when it stings! Like the bite of any other hymenoptera, we observe a inflammatory skin reaction (redness and swelling).

Stung? Here’s how to react:

  1. Make sure that blood circulation is not impeded by a ring, bracelet etc. And, as a precaution, remove necklaces, alliances, rings and bracelets.
  2. Remove the sting with tweezers if it has stuck in the skin.
  3. Wash and disinfect the area with a disinfectant solution or using soap and water.
  4. Put ice in a cloth and place in contact with the bite to soothe the pain.

Since the discomfort can last several days, you can then apply a local anesthetic or a soothing essential oil (such as spike lavender essential oil). If the symptoms do not subside after 48 hours, consult a doctor. In case of doubt or strange reaction, we obviously consult a health professional.

What are the dangers of Asian hornet bites?

In the majority of cases, the sting of the Asian hornet is harmless. However, there is a risk, when the sting touches a mucous membrane, in case of multiple bites and of allergic reaction to venom of Hymenoptera. In those affected, this can cause respiratory shock, angioedema, anaphylactic shock. How do you know if you are allergic to the Asian hornet? We observe the reaction after the bite: if we feel nausea, that we have trouble breathing, hives (rash of red patches accompanied by itching) we try to remain calm and contact the emergency services (Samu 15 or firefighters 18) so that they intervene as quickly as possible.

The fight against the Asian hornet is not easy. Yet this predator, by attacking the bees, constitutes a real threat to biodiversity.

The best time is probably to act when the nests are still “small” and at breast height, rather than when the nest is giant and very high. However, it is better not to try to get rid of a hornet’s nest because the company is very dangerous and must be carried out by professionals (one can generally recover the coordinates of a competent professional from his town hall). For the time being, the destruction of this type of nest is not supported by the State but some municipalities offer financial participation to individuals.

Good to know: standard insecticides, available on the market, are not effective against this type of hornets, they simply risk making them more aggressive!

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