Six years of controlling the invasive species Vespa velutina in a Mediterranean island: the promising results of an eradication plan.
Background: The yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax, is an invasive alien species (IAS) which was accidentally introduced in Europe from Asia. This social insect preys primarily on honeybees but also on other pollinators and insects. Consequently, the establishment of this pest has a negative impact on biodiversity, pollination and economy. There is no clear coordination and uniformed methods for eradication measures between countries. Here we present the first field study of the strategy of eradication of the pest species V. velutina that has been conducted in the westernmost Mediterranean archipelago. Results: We investigated the combination of different eradication methods, such as trapping; the use of the citizen science data for detection of presence, the active search of nests and the removal of nests using mechanical methods. The progression of the number of secondary nests found was 1 (2015), 9 (2016) and 20 (2017), with zero during 2018, 2019 and 2020, and just one embryo nest in 2018. More than half of the nests (58%) were detected thanks to citizen science data. The people sent us adult detections, and we started the triangulation method to find the nests. The last hornet found in the traps was in June 2018. Conclusion: Early detections of the IAS are crucial to minimise their effects, and citizen science may offer an important source of information to determine the presence and distribution of V. velutina. The findings we present here indicate successful management for this globally significant pest and could contribute to advance the 'science of eradication'.