Tracking Asian Hornets Using Radio Telemetry

Fotó egy ázsiai lódarázsról
Asian Hornet (On the Left) Photo: Daniel Solabarrieta / Flickr

Asian Hornet Invasion

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is an invasive species that poses a significant threat, which appeared in Europe almost two decades ago, and was also detected in Hungary in the summer of 2023. Even in its native environment, it is one of the most aggressive and dangerous hornets, and its presence causes a drastic decline in the number of insects that serve as prey for them. The hornets’ attacks can also pose a risk to human health. In addition, they can cause significant damage to beekeeping, as the overwhelming majority of their food consists of honey bees (Apis mellifera); their damage can lead to the destruction of entire bee colonies or even smaller apiaries. Based on previous scientific research, the regular observation of the hornets allows timely intervention, which can be effective in managing the population. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to eliminate the outbreak point(s) in order to slow down or stop the spread.

Tracking Asian Hornets Using Radio Telemetry

The best known solution for finding the hornet nests is radio telemetry tracking. However, the currently available transmitters have a small range and are not reusable, making them less cost-effective. Therefore, we started a new development project with our own funding and professional cooperation with the Hungarian University of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Magyar Krajnai Egyesület, aiming to develop transmitters that can be attached to the Asian hornet. We have already successfully developed a prototype. The transmitters will have the following parameters:

  • orders of magnitude higher transmission power compared to the transmitters available from other manufacturers,
  • as a result, multiple times longer range,
  • replaceable battery design,
  • thus, overall, a more cost-effective and significantly better technical performance transmitter than the alternatives.
Kép egy lepkékre készített jeladóról
A radio transmitter made for the tracking of the Papilio Antimachus butterfly species.

Related to the this project, we have previously worked on a nature conservation project in Liberia, Mount Nimba, where we developed transmitters, handheld and automated receivers for tracking the Papilio antimachus butterfly species. More info (only available in the hungarian language): here

You can read more about the Asian hornet and how to fight against them on the following website operated by the Magyar Krajnai Egyesület: here