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The Yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina, is an invasive Asian hornet whose presence was recorded for the first time in France (Lot-et-Garonne) by Haxaire et al. (2006). The hornet lineage introduced to France belongs to the variety nigrithorax, which is predominantly brown coloured. The invasive population was generated by founder females which could have arrived with Chinese pottery imported by a horticulturist from Lot-et-Garonne who noticed since 2004 the presence of this species around his property. From there, the hornet rapidly spread across France and now half of the country is invaded (see data from INPN) as well as several other countries (Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Germany, England) (Villemant et al., 2006a ; Rome et al., 2009 ; Villemant et al., 2011a ; López et al., 2011 ; Grosso-Silva & Maia, 2012 ; Rome et al., 2012 ; Muller et al., 2013 ; Rome et al., 2013a ; Demichelis et al., 2014 ; Porporato et al., 2014 ; Witt, 2015 ; Arca et al., 2015 ; Goldarazena et al., 2015 ; NNSS, 2016 ; Husemann et al., 2020).

Click to see the annual spread. Sources : INPN (France), Dirección General de Calidad y Evaluación Ambiental y Medio Natural, N. Vicens (DDGI), S. Rojas Nossa (Univ. Vigo) (Spain), ICNF, NATIVA & SOS Vespa (Portugal), CARI & CiEi / DGARNE (Belgium), CREA & Università di Torino (Italy), R. Witt, M. Husemann (Univ. Hamburg) (Germany), NNSS & NBU (UK), Waarneming.nl (the Netherlands), Service sanitaire apicole suisse (Switzerland), Administration de la Nature et des Forêt et MNHNL (Luxembourg), NPWS (Ireland), EASIN (UE).

The genus Vespa includes 22 species all found in Asia. They mainly occupy Central to South-East Asia whereas only a few reached the Philippines islands or New-Guinea. Hitherto, only two species naturally spread from Asia to Europe: the European hornet Vespa crabro and the Oriental hornet Vespa orientalis (Matsuura & Yamane, 1990). Whereas V. crabro is present all over Europe, V. orientalis only reached Bulgaria, Greece and Southern Italy. This last species is also the only hornet present in North-Africa (Carpenter & Kojima, 1997 ; Rortais et al., 2010).

Distribution des 3 espèces de frelons présentes en Europe.
Distribution des 3 espèces de frelons présentes en Europe.