Three large insects found in the Nanaimo area in August have been confirmed by Canadian and international experts as Asian giant hornets (vespa mandarinia), the first time they have been found on Vancouver Island.
While the hornets are dormant and unlikely to be seen in fall and winter, British Columbians who think they may have seen one can report findings to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1 888 933-3722, via the council's "Report Invasives" mobile phone app, or at: https://bcinvasives.ca/report
As Asian giant hornets are well known to feed on honeybees and are capable of destroying hives in a short time period, the Ministry of Agriculture 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 do not seek out human food and feed on insects only. 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.
If people are stung, as with wasp or bee stings, place an ice cube/pack or cold compress on the location to reduce inflammation and the spread of venom. Do not rub the site, as it will cause the venom to spread into the surrounding tissue. People who are stung multiple times (10 or more) have a higher risk of developing toxic or allergic reaction, such as light-headedness or dizziness. People who are stung multiple times or who develop symptoms of toxic or allergic reaction are advised to seek medical attention immediately.
To view photos of the Asian giant hornet, and the look-alike species bald-faced hornet, yellow jacket, elm sawfly and northern horntail, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/agriculture-and-seafood/animal-and-crops/plant-health/pest_alert_asian_hornet.pdf
Visit HealthLink for more information on common insect stings: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/sig44526
And allergies to insect stings: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/rt1285
Invasive Species Council of BC: https://bcinvasives.ca/
A backgrounder follows.