Friday 11 July 2014

Conops vesicularis and the Asian Hornet, an interesting development?

The war against the Asian Hornet continues.

Conops vesicularis is a small fly from the genus Conops in the family Conopidae and its larvae are endoparasites of bees and wasps. Females inject their eggs into the target species where the larvae develop by eating the host causing its death – all very charming I can see you thinking however it may be a help in controlling the Asian Hornet, an invasive introduced species that targets Honey bees.

Three researchers from the 'Institut de recherche sur la biologie de l'insecte (CNRS/Université François Rabelais de Tours) have been conducting research into whether native parasitic species could have an impact on the health of Asian Hornet colonies.

They scrutinized the life of 12 colonies of Asian hornets situated near their laboratory in Tours. The colonies were monitored twice a week between June and August 2013 and out of the 12 colonies studied only three developed normally. It was the others that interested the researchers. From inside the decimated colonies they collected two dead queens for dissection and each was found to have a parasite in the abdomen that had completely devoured their insides.

This parasite has been identified as Conops vesicularis, a native species common in Europe that normally attacks Bumble bees and that has no nuisance potential for humans but in these instances it seems to be capable of taking on the Asian Hornet giving hope that eventually this parasite could limit the number of colonies of Asian hornets, or even lead to their decline in Europe.