(Black Press file photo).

Invasive hornet found on Vancouver Island for the first time: B.C. government

VICTORIA — An insect that is listed as an invasive species in British Columbia has been found in the Nanaimo area, which the provincial government says is the first time Asian giant hornets have been found on Vancouver Island.

The three large insects were confirmed to be Asian giant hornets or vespa mandarinia by Canadian and international experts.

The provincial government says the hornets are dormant and unlikely to be seen in fall and winter, but it is asking anyone who thinks they have seen them to report their findings to the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia.

The hornets feed on honeybees and can destroy hives in a short time period.

The Agriculture Ministry is investigating how it can help beekeepers with surveillance and trapping equipment in the spring if other hornets emerge from dormancy or are found in the area.

Worker hornets are about 3.5 centimetres in length, but queens can be up to five centimetres in length and have a wingspan of up to seven centimetres.

Asian giant hornets only nest in the ground, unlike bees and wasps, which build nests and hives in trees and buildings.

The government says it is not known when the hornets first arrived on Vancouver Island, but they are found in parts of China, Korea and Japan and it is believed they arrived with personal or commercial goods.

The province says Asian giant hornets feed only on insects, but people should not disturb their nests.

It is rare for the hornets to sting but that can happen if their nests are disturbed. When they sting, the province says the hornets inject a larger amount of venom so a sting can be painful and cause localized swelling, redness and itching.

Anyone who is stung by a wasp or bee should place ice or a cold compress on the location of the sting to reduce inflammation and the spread of venom. Rubbing the sting causes the venom to spread.

The provincial government says anyone who is stung 10 or more times and develops symptoms of toxic or allergic reaction should seek medical attention immediately.

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