Agriculture & Natural Resources
RESTRICTED PUBLIC ACCESS TO GORDON COUNTY BUILDINGS
March 18, 2020
As Gordon County Officials continue to monitor the evolving situation surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we believe that it is in the best interest of our employees and the public to implement the following action.
Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020, as a precaution, and to limit exposure from person to person contact, Gordon County Government will restrict public access to public County buildings and facilities. Gordon County will continue to provide services and encourages the use of online services at gordoncounty.org.
All County employees will be required to report daily as normal. As this situation continues to develop, adjustments may be made, if necessary, to facilitate the delivery of services.
Residents needing to conduct business with a County department, after an attempt to use online services, should contact that department by phone or email. Contact information for County departments is available on Gordon County’s website: www.gordoncounty.org.
This action will remain in place for at least the next 14 days and may be extended as necessary.
Again, we urge all residents to remain calm and follow the advice and recommendations of public health professionals which includes:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Staying home when you are sick
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Cleaning/Disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Calling your healthcare provider if you experience any flu-like symptoms
Asian Giant Hornet
The Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, is native to East Asia, South Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, parts of the Russian Far East. Outside its native range, it has been detected in Washington and British Columbia (Canada). It has not been found in any US state other than Washington (May 2020).
A flurry of recent press coverage has created a surge of interest in the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia. However, it was discovered and verified last year, first in Vancouver, Canada, and then in the northwest corner of Washington state, in December 2019. But to date, this invasive insect is not present in the state of Georgia.
The Asian giant hornet is a “true” hornet and the world’s largest, ranging in size from 1.5 to slightly over 2 inches long (38-50mm). The stinger is nearly ¼-inch from being stung by these hornets. The long and stings are extremely painful. Each year in Japan, 30-50 people die from being stung by these hornets. The venom is not the most lethal among bees and wasps, but due to the insect’s large size, the dose is more than any other stinging insect Americans typically encounter. Human sting deaths are biased toward individuals who are prone toanaphylactic reactions or to individuals who receive large numbers of stings. One or a few stings from a Asian giant hornet should not be life-threatening to an average individual.
The Asian giant hornet is not necessarily aggressive towards humans, livestock or pets but will sting if provoked. However, this giant killer can inflict a devastating blow to honey bee colonies, with several hornets annihilating 30,000 bees within a few hours. There are three phases to an Asian giant hornet attacking a honey bee colony. The first is the hunting phase where individual hornets will capture bees at the entrance of the colony, cut off their heads, and form a “meat ball” from the thorax. They then return to their nest to feed their young this protein-rich meal.
The second phase is the slaughter phase. Hornets will mark a particular colony with a pheromone to alert their sisters of the imminent attack. Then numerous hornets will descend upon the colony, killing all of the workers by ripping their heads off, and dumping their bodies onto the ground below. Once the colony is void of bees, the hornets behave as if this hive is now their own, becoming extremely aggressive to anyone or anything coming near.
The third is the occupation phase where the hornets enter the hive, collect pupae and larvae and then return to their own nest to feed their carnivorous young. The aftermath of an attack will be piles of decapitated or ripped apart bees in front of a colony. The visible key to an Asian
giant hornet attack is “decapitated” or “ripped apart” bees, and not just a pile of intact dead bees which could be the result of pesticides, starvation or something else.
This is the hornet that incites the famous bee defensive response of “cooking” hornets to death. The bees grab an invading hornet, pile around it and raise their thoracic temperatures to the critical temperature that is lethal to wasps but tolerable to bees. Unfortunately, American honey bees, of European not Asiatic descent, do not have this behavior.
The Asian giant hornet’s life cycle is typical of that for other social wasps and yellow jackets. A solitary female emerges from winter hibernation and finds a subterranean nest, at first performing all nest duties including foraging and incubating the young. The colony steadily grows until workers eventually take over all foraging duties. New queens and males emerge in late summer and mate. Eventually the males and worker die, leaving only the newly-mated queens who overwinter in isolation.
At this time there have been no confirmed cases of this hornet’s presence in Georgia or anywhere outside of Washington state.
Other wasps and hornets already residents in our state that may be confused with the Asian giant hornet are:
- Cicada killers, Sphecius speciosus, size range 0.6 – 2 inches long (15 – 50mm)
- European hornets, Vespa crabro, size range 1-1.4 inches (25-35mm)
- Southern yellow jackets, Vespula squamosa, size range 0.5inches (12mm)
- Bald faced hornets, Dolichovespula maculatae, size range 0.75 inches (19mm)
The Asian giant hornet and cicada killer may be similar in size but very different in coloration. The Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health have put together an “Asian Giant Hornet and its SE US Lookalikes” photographic fact sheet which is extremely helpful to distinguish between the different species in our state.
At this time, we need to be vigilant but not over-reactive since, again, there is no evidence that the Asian giant hornet has journeyed East. However, sightings and/or disturbances to honey bee colonies should be reported.
If you think you have seen an Asian giant hornet, found evidence of an attack (decapitated or ripped apart bees) or have a specimen, please contact Greg Bowman, Gordon County Extension Agent at 706- 629-8685.
For photos and more in-depth please check out the following:
Information about the Asian giant hornet, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health Asian giant hornet and its SE US Lookalikes
Meet Greg Bowman, Gordon County Extension Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR) Agent. Greg, a lifetime resident of Gordon County, is a graduate from the University of Georgia with a BS in Animal Science 1993. While attending, he was a top team member of a very successful UGA Livestock Judging Team that competed across the United States. Greg has a total of twenty-five years experience working for UGA Extension. He is married to Tonya and they have two daughters, Kendall and Lindsay.
Feel free to contact Greg with questions or concerns regarding your lawn, flower garden, fruit trees, vegetable garden, pasture, well water, etc.
Office hours are 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon and 1:00 until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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Environment and Natural Resources
Below are some of UGA Extension's most broadly useful resources for those involved in agriculture on the farm, in schools, and around the home.