Abstract The yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax (Hymenoptera: Vespidae, Lepeletier 1836), is native to Southeast Asia and has been unintentionally introduced in France. The species is spreading in many areas of the world. The European Union has classified V. velutina as a species of concern because the hornet significantly affects beekeeping activities, mostly by preying honeybees (Apis mellifera) at beehive entrances. No current control method is simultaneously eco-friendly and effective. Here, we aimed to develop a greener technique for destroying V. velutina nests, inspired by a defense behavior used by the eastern honeybee (Apis cerana), the “heat ball”. In the laboratory, we tested how V. velutina of different sexes, castes, and developmental stages responded to different heat exposure systems employing a range of temperature levels. Overall, the time of death decreased as temperature increased. Hornets died faster when the temperature was gradually increased than when it was instantaneously increased; larvae seemed to be more thermally tolerant. The most promising and potential technique for quickly destroying hornet nests may be steam injection, as the humid airflow system killed all hornets within 13 seconds, and therefore could be a good candidate for a green nest control method.
Citation: Ruiz-Cristi I, Berville L, Darrouzet E (2020) Characterizing thermal tolerance in the invasive yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax): The first step toward a green control method. PLoS ONE 15(10): e0239742. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239742