Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Vespa velutina: traits and impacts of a successful invasive alien species.

Abstract

The invasion of Vespa velutina Lepeletier, 1836 continues to expand into new areas. It is an invasive alien species that currently produces social alarm and concern for its ecological, economic and social impacts. The objective of this work is to explore the biological traits of the species to understand the reasons for its invasive success and impacts. These are related to aspects such as a complex social system, a versatile generalist behaviour or a high reproductive rate added to its ability to establish colonies from a single mated queen. The impacts of this hymenopteran on ecosystems and beekeeping are related to its behaviour as a predator of insect-pollinators, particularly honeybees. The increase of the population during summer and its preference for urban and semi-urban areas entail frequent encounters with people, resulting in an increased risk of being stung. Its defences involve chemical communication triggering collective attacks and the injection of a venom rich in toxins that impacts human health.