Savannah, Georgia, known for its historic charm and lush landscapes, is facing an unexpected challenge from an invasive species: Vespa velutina, also known as the yellow legged hornet. This aggressive and rapidly spreading hornet species is making its presence felt, posing potential threats to both the local ecosystem and human activities. Let’s delve into the invasion dynamics of yellow legged hornet in Savannah, learn how to identify this species, and explore the importance of reporting its sightings.

The Invasion of yellow legged hornet
The yellow legged hornet is native to East Asia, has established itself in various parts of the world, including Europe and the Middle East. Unfortunately, Savannah, Georgia, has not been spared from its invasive reach. With a recent confirmed report this species poses a significant threat to native pollinators, beneficial insects, and honeybee populations. The hornets are voracious predators that can decimate local bee colonies and disrupt the delicate balance of local ecosystems and having a negative impact on Georgia Agriculture.

At this stage the most important thing any one can do is learn to recognize this hornet and report it to the Georgia Department of Agriculture! If we are going to win this battle against an invasive pest we need to detect it early.

Identifying yellow legged hornet
Recognizing yellow legged hornet is essential for effective monitoring and control efforts. Here are some key features to look for when identifying this invasive species:

  1. Size and Color: yellow legged hornet is smaller than the native European hornet, with an average length of about 1 inch (2.5 cm). It has a distinct color pattern, featuring a dark velvety black or brownish-black thorax and abdomen, accompanied by a bright orange or yellow face.
  2. Thorax and Abdomen: The dark color of the thorax and abdomen is often accompanied by a single yellow band near the fourth abdominal segment. Its legs are brown with yellow segments.
  3. Behavior: yellow legged hornet is known for its aggressive behavior, especially when defending its nest. It’s crucial to observe from a safe distance and not provoke these hornets.
  4. USDA has a hornet identification tool with specific information to help differentiate the yellow-legged hornet from other species.

Reporting yellow legged hornet Sightings:
Early detection and reporting of yellow legged hornet sightings are vital for controlling its spread and minimizing its impact. If you suspect you’ve encountered this invasive hornet, here’s what you can do:

  1. Observe Safely: Keep a safe distance from the hornets and avoid any actions that could provoke them.
  2. Capture Visual Evidence: If possible, take clear photos or videos of the hornet and its surroundings. This will aid experts in verifying the sighting.
  3. Note Location and Time: Record the date, time, and specific location of the sighting. This information helps authorities track the spread of the species.
  4. Report to Authorities: Contact your local agricultural extension office, wildlife agency, or relevant authorities to report the sighting. They will guide you on the appropriate steps to take.

Georgia Department of Agriculture’s (GDA) website has been updated with additional information regarding the yellow-legged hornet and an easily accessible form to report potential sightings. This information is prominently displayed on the GDA homepage. Georgians with additional questions or concerns are encouraged to email

Georgians reporting suspected specimens should include the following information:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • The location of the sighting/attack.
  • The date of the sighting/attack.
  • If you can, safely take photograph(s) of the hornet (we generally can only confirm a report with a photo or specimen).
  • The location and approximate altitude of the nest if found (Is it in a tree? Approximately how high is the nest?).
  • If you have no photo, please include a description of the size of the insect, the color of the head and body, and what it was doing.
  • Description of the hive loss/damage (if no photo is available). 
  • The direction the hornet(s) flew when flying away.

The invasion of yellow legged hornet in Savannah, Georgia, is a concerning development that requires the vigilance of the local community. By familiarizing ourselves with the identification of this invasive species and promptly reporting any sightings, we can contribute to efforts aimed at minimizing its impact on local ecosystems and livelihoods. Working together, we can help protect the natural beauty and biodiversity that makes Savannah such a unique and cherished place.

Remember, being a responsible observer and promptly reporting yellow legged hornet sightings is a vital step towards mitigating its invasion and safeguarding our environment.

If you believe you saw a yellow-legged hornet in another state or province, please report it to the Department of Agriculture for that state or province.