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Shotgun blasts can end hornet menace

This month is when Asian hornets do the most damage by killing bees to feed young larvae and one beekeeper, who lost 30 of his 100 hives last year, is pioneering non-chemical alternatives to destroy nests.

Denis Jaffré is vice-president of the Association Action Anti Frelon Asiatique at Locmélar, Finistère and said we must realise the urgent need to get rid of the hornets in a cheaper and environmentally better way than using toxic insecticides.

“Last year I found a dead hedgehog, just metres from a destroyed nest as it had fed on the poisoned insects.”

He advises calling in pest controllers to clear a nest but says they and communes need to learn new methods – the most dramatic being a shotgun.

“This works extremely well but, of course, can only be done in certain circumstances, well away from inhabited areas. Nest destruction should take place at night as hornets are diurnal. 

“A minimum of five marksmen are needed, using different gauge shot. I have tried it with 100% success and written a protocol to follow on our website.”

Mr Jaffré gives talks on his work and has tested steam, sulphur dioxide gas and a hot-air paint stripper but said the best is to spot the nest when small.

“In May or June, it is the size of a tennis ball; we can act at night then to cut it from its support with a knife and ease it into a jar, shut the lid and put in the freezer to kill the few hornets inside.”

Another method is to trap the queen early in the year while she feeds. Mr Jaffré aims to patent a trap for queens that avoids the problem with commercial and DIY traps which he says are “indiscriminate”.

“I make a paste which doesn’t drown insects. The queen will feed on it about six times a day so you have a chance to capture her in a jar and put it in the freezer. It is easy, the queen is docile while feeding.”

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