A sex pheromone to stop the invasion of the “murderous” giant hornet

The largest hornet in the world causes concern because of its menacing appearance and its strong spread in North America.

Qualify this Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) of “murder hornet” may be an exaggeration of its danger. However, according to the researchers, this invasive species is destructive and threatens the populations of bees North American companies as well as millions of dollars of products agricultural. These giant hornets could quickly destroy entire colonies of bees, only being able to defend themselves by “heat ball”.

According to James Nieh, a science division professor and bee researcher at the University of California San Diego, these hornets aren’t exactly deadly. For him, they are amazing social insects, which simply have no place in North America.

However, there is not yet a clear way to eliminate. It is even still difficult to locate them with precision. So far they have been reported in Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

The identification of the pheromone sexual would be a key step in order to be able to trap and to follow the hornets. Using gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and two-year experiments, Nieh and his Chinese colleagues were able to identify the 3 components adults sex pheromone the queen of the asian giant hornet. These main chemical components would be hexanoic acid, octanoic acid and decanoic acid. These are compounds that can be easily purchased and immediately deployed in the field.

The researchers used a similar approach to identify the female sex pheromone of a related species of the Asian hornet. (Vespa velutina). In their new study, they placed traps near nests and places where they typically mate, but they didn’t capture only hornets males. During their experiment, they tested the neural activity of the hornet and found that the antennae of males are very sensitive to the pheromone.

Although experimental traps have been installed near bee colonies, Nieh plans to position itself on various Site (s to assess whether they can to attract chemically over greater distances. He said these traps could be deployed easily for sampling over a wider geographical area, as they are little expensive.

Instead of patenting the identification of the sex pheromone, Nieh and his colleagues decided to quickly publish their results in hopes of providing a solution to help to document the spread hornet. As the traps move, a map and predictive models could be established to study their behavior and the rate at which they spread. The chemical mixtures contained in these traps could reduce the number of males available that can mate with females.

Nieh hopes his counterparts, especially those in the invaded areas, will use the protocol they have established and test this method.


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