An innovative harmonic radar to track flying insects: the case of Vespa velutina.
Over the last 30 years, harmonic radars have been effective only in tracking insects flying at low altitude and over flat terrain. We developed an innovative harmonic radar, implementing the most advanced radar techniques, which covers a large field of view in elevation (with an angular aperture of about 24°) and can track insects up to a range of 500 m. We show all the components of this new harmonic radar and its first application, the tracking of Vespa velutina (yellow-legged Asian hornet). This is an invasive species which, although indigenous to South-East Asia, is spreading quickly to other regions of the world. Because of its fast diffusion and the serious threat it poses to both honeybee colonies and to humans, control measures are mandatory. When equipped with a small passive transponder, this radar system can track the flight trajectory of insects and locate nests to be destroyed. This tool has potential not only for monitoring V. velutina but also for tracking other larger insects and small size vertebrates.