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Asian hornets fighting over an apple

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) fighting over an apple #1

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina Lepeletier, 1836) are an invasive species from China which have recently become very abundant in Galicia in Spain – as well as elsewhere in Europe – as I described in a recent blog: Asian hornets in Galicia. They have a reputation for being aggressive, so I was interested to photograph this behaviour between two individuals fighting over a fallen apple! They start off facing each other with open jaws (above), but very quickly one of them manages to get on top of the other, who is upside down on the grass (sequence shown below).

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) fighting over an apple #2

It reminded me a bit of the sort of tussles we had at school when I was a boy! Getting on top of the other, without doing any major harm! Wrestling for dominance!

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) fighting over an apple #3

In fact there were plenty of fallen apples in this abandoned orchard, so there was really no need to squabble over this one! The loser is laying flat on his/her back (dorsal side) in the following photograph. Mandibles still open.

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) fighting over an apple #4
Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) fighting over an apple #5

Eventually, the winner is left alone to feed on the apple by his/herself.

Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) feeding on an apple
Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) feeding on an apple

There were also lots of Red Admiral butterflies (Vanessa atalanta) around as well, trying to feed on the rotting apples. They got chased off as well! Details of this pest in Galicia are described in this Spanish blog, here.

Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) with Red Admiral on an apple

Photographed on 26th Sept 2017, near the Sor River or Sor Mañón in the parish of Mañon, northern Galicia, Spain.

rcannon992 View All

I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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