Vespa velutina nest distribution at a local scale: an 8-year survey of the invasive honeybee predator.
Vespa velutina is an invasive species that was observed for the first time in France and Europe in 2004, which rapidly threatened domestic honeybees with active predation. For the first time in this study, we analyzed the distribution of V. velutina nests at a local scale to understand the pattern of nesting, and in 8 years of monitoring, a total of 528 nests were surveyed. With the exception of 2 years, the nests of V. velutina were randomly distributed within the monitored area, which suggested that intraspecific competition for nesting sites and/or food was unlikely. When the data for all years were combined, an aggregated distribution of nests at the seafront in the vicinity of the oyster farm and sportfishing activities was observed. This distribution suggested that seafood, attractive to vespids, might provide a valuable alternative food source that favored colony development. We also tested the effect of spring queen trapping of V. velutina on the distribution of nests in 2014, which was the year with the greatest number of colonies within the area; the position of the traps did not influence the distribution of the nests. For the first time, this study showed that (i) intraspecific competition was unlikely to be a mechanism for population regulation, (ii) some areas were more likely favored for hornet nests, and (iii) spring queen wasp trapping was inefficient as a method to limit the distribution of the V. velutina population.