Tracking the invasive hornet Vespa velutina in complex environments by means of a harmonic radar.
An innovative scanning harmonic radar has been recently developed for tracking insects in complex landscapes. This movable technology has been tested on an invasive hornet species (Vespa velutina) for detecting the position of their nests in the environment, in the framework of an early detection strategy. The new model of harmonic radar proved to be effective in tracking hornets either in open landscapes, hilly environments and areas characterised by the presence of more obstacles, such as woodlands and urban areas. Hornets were effectively tracked in complex landscapes for a mean tracking length of 96 ± 62 m with maximum values of ~ 300 m. The effectiveness of locating nests was 75% in new invasive outbreaks and 60% in highly density colonised areas. Furthermore, this technology could provide information on several aspects of insect's ecology and biology. In this case, new insights were obtained about the mean foraging range of V. velutina (395 ± 208 m with a maximum value of 786 m) and flying features (ground speed), which was 6.66 ± 2.31 m s-1 for foraging individuals (hornets that are not carrying prey's pellet) and 4.06 ± 1.34 m s-1 for homing individuals.