In August 2023, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) and the University of Georgia, confirmed the presence of a yellow-legged hornet (YLH; Vespa velutina) near Savannah, Ga. This is the first time a live specimen of this species has been detected in the open United States.
The yellow-legged hornet poses a threat to honeybees and other pollinators in our state. These pollinators play a significant role in Georgia’s agriculture industry, the state's main economic driver, and it is imperative that these invasive pests are tracked and eradicated. We are working with USDA APHIS and UGA to trap, track, and eradicate these pests and will continue to assess the situation as new information becomes available and allocate additional resources as need.
The public plays an important role, and we are asking Georgians to report sightings of the yellow-legged hornet using this online reporting form. We urge the public to be cautious in the event they come across a suspected yellow-legged hornet. If you can safely take a photo of the suspected yellow-legged hornet, we encourage you to do so to assist us with identification.
About the Yellow-Legged Hornet
This is the first detection of a live specimen of a yellow-legged hornet in the open United States. A native to tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, the yellow-legged hornet is generally smaller than the Northern Giant Hornet (NGH).
Workers can be around half the size of an NGH, and queens can be around ¾ the size. The legs are partially or primarily yellow, hence the common name "yellow-legged hornet." The body and head coloration can vary. This hornet is a social wasp species that constructs egg-shaped paper nests above the ground, often in trees. These nests can become large, housing an average of 6,000 workers.
The yellow-legged hornet feeds on a variety of insects. If allowed to establish in the US, this invasive species could threaten honey production and Georgia’s native pollinators. These native pollinators play a vital role in our state’s agriculture industry.
If you believe you have seen a yellow-legged hornet in your area, complete this online reporting form after reviewing the information above. If it is safe to do so, submit a picture and other details about any suspected sightings of the yellow-legged hornet. Photographs allow us to verify the identification, which is important since some native wasps can look very similar. If you are unsure about your specimen, please send a picture anyway.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to email@example.com.
Please note: There are many domestic lookalikes that are native to the United States and do not pose a threat to honeybees. Many of them are valuable pollinators.
If you are not in Georgia, please report your sighting to your local extension agency or Department of Agriculture, not on this form.
Yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina, formerly called Asian hornet) by Gilles San Martin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped)