Bio-ethology of Vespa crabro in Sardinia (Italy), an area of new introduction.
Vespa crabro, also known as European hornet, is a eusocial Vespidae originally from Eurasia that was accidentally introduced on the island of Sardinia (Italy) in 2010. Currently, its distribution is limited to the northern area of the island. Considering that a non-harmful species in its native region can exhibit invasive behaviour when established in new environments, bio-ethological observations were conducted to better understand whether V. crabro could show invasive traits in Sardinia, which represents a new introduction area. Data on the foraging activity of the European hornet in open fields were collected within a citizen science monitoring program carried out in Sardinia from 2018 to 2020. Moreover, specific behavioural observations were made in apiaries to assess the predatory activity of the hornet towards honey bees and at the entrance of free-living European hornet colonies to evaluate other aspects of its behaviour, i.e., intranidal and extranidal tasks. The results of our study are discussed in relation to the behavioural traits known for this species in its native areas to place the behavioural repertoire of V. crabro in Sardinia into a wider context. Our observations revealed that V. crabro did not show any changes in behavioural traits in Sardinia compared to those described in its area of origin, so the risk of becoming an invasive species on this island seems unlikely.