BugBytes Vol. 8 Issue 13

Posted By: Lydia Crabtree Bug Bytes, Industry News,

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April 26, 2024 | Vol. 8 Issue 13
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PestVets Joins Service Teams for Operation Caudle Home Ramp Project - YOU CAN HELP

PestVets is partnering with the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program, The Home Depot Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity to bring a ramp to disabled Veteran, Russel Caudle. Russel served over 20 years in the United States Air Force after enlisting right out of high school back in 1954. In 1967, he provided sutation maps to General William Westmorland and other Generals, during Vietnam through the 321st Graphics Shop. Russel and his wife Verna live in Acworth, Georgia.

The project will be to complete a very large ramp with cement portions starting Monday, May 6th and concluding on Thursday, May 9th, 2024.

GPCA PestVets are looking to gather a team to attend this event and be part of the demolition (Monday), framing and building the wooden part of the ramp (Tuesday & Wednesday), and pouring, leveling, and screeting the concrete portions of the ramp and sidewalk to the street (Thursday). The staining of the ramp will be done three months after construction is completed.

Lunch, soft drinks, and water  will be provided on all working days and appropriate construction clothing is required including:
  1. No shorts
  2. Work Boots
  3. Leather Work Gloves
  4. Workers need to provide their own tools (power drills, second chops saw - if anyone has one)
  5. Safety glasses, if you have them
Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older. 

To join the GPCA PestVets Team, click the button below and register on EventBrite where all the details are given. 
Join the PestVets Team

GDA Hot Tip: Adding a Registered Employee Online

The GDA is making strides towards online application accessibility and technology updates, but many processes are already available online! Adding a registered employee to your company is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. Check out the F.A.Q below for more information on keeping your company's employee registrations up to date. 

Who needs to be registered? 
Non-certified employees such as technicians, salespeople, inspectors or other employees involved with the solicitation or performance of any phase of structural pest control need to be registered.

When do I need to add a Registered Employee? 
No employee may solicit business or perform pest control work except in the presence of a certified operator or registered employee until the employee has satisfied all requirements for employee registration. You must notify the GDA of any employees who fail to become registered within 30 days of employment. 

For more information on Employee Registration requirements please review the Employee Registration Compliance Fact Sheet.
How do I add a new Registered Employee that has never had a license before? 
You can utilize the Employee Registration Online Guide for a step-by-step walkthrough of how to add a new Registered Employee through Kelly Solutions.  
How do I add a Registered Employee that is transferring from another company? 
You can utilize the Employee Registration Online Guide for a step-by-step walkthrough of how to transfer a Registered Employee through Kelly Solutions.  
How much does it cost to add a registered employee? 
Each employee’s registration costs $10. This fee can be paid through the Kelly Solutions portal at the time of registration.  
How do I remove an employee from our employee roster? 
To remove an employee from your company’s employee roster, please send an email with your company name, license number, and a message with the employee’s name and license number that you'd like to remove to pest@agr.georgia.gov 
The listed employees(s) will then be removed from the roster. Please allow 48 business hours for this to be completed. 
Issue 5: December 16, 2023 - April 17, 2024
Yellow-legged hornet activity in the Savannah area resumed this spring as overwintering queens have begun to emerge and establish embryo nests. The Georgia Department of Agriculture is significantly ramping up our efforts to eradicate this invasive pest, which threatens native pollinators and our state’s #1 industry – agriculture. We continue to ask for the public’s help in this fight and ask that all suspected sightings be reported to us.

Update by the Numbers:
Total traps deployed (August 2023 – April 2024): 224+
New traps deployed or removed: 54+ deployed | 0 removed
Hornets found (December 2023 – April 17, 2024): 12
Nests found (December 2023 – April 17, 2024): 2
Nests eradicated (December 2023 – April 17, 2024): 2
Total nests found & eradicated (August 2023 – April 2024):
  • GDA: 6
  • Homeowner: 1
  • Total: 7

The Georgia Department of Agriculture eradicated a yellow-legged hornet nest and queen on Monday, April 8, 2024. This was an embryo nest, reported by a citizen, located at a private residence in the Savannah Area.

(Pictured: A queen building an embryo nest. The queen was captured on April 8, 2024, and the nest and queen were eradicated.)
On Saturday, April 13, 2024, a homeowner in the Savannah area successfully located and eradicated a YLH embryo nest and queen. If you come across a nest, take a photo and report it using the online YLH reporting form or email yellow.legged.hornet@agr.georgia.govRemember, if you remove a YLH nest, it's crucial to ensure the queen has been eliminated to prevent her from establishing another nest elsewhere. If unsure about removing a nest, please contact GDA.

(Pictured: Nest 7 was found & eradicated by a Savannah resident on April 13, 2024.)
These are the 6th & 7th nests found in Georgia, and the 8th found in the US and destroyed since the hornets were discovered in August 2023. On April 2, 2024, a Beaufort County, South Carolina, resident found a yellow-legged hornet embryo nest affixed to his home. That nest was eradicated by SC state officials on April 4, 2024.
Notes on Embryo Nests
The mated queens will overwinter (similar to hibernation) and emerge in the spring to find a food source, establish an embryo nest, and begin producing workers. As the colony grows, it forms a larger secondary nest in the summer months. From what we've seen, these secondary nests tend to be positioned 80-100 feet up in trees. The five nests we discovered in 2023 were these larger secondary ones. In contrast, the nests we located and removed on April 8 and 13, 2024, were still in their early stages. These early nests, also called Stage 1 or embryo nests, range in size from a ping-pong to a tennis ball and are often found in sheltered spots like the eaves of buildings. The difference is noted in the photos below.

(Pictured: Left: Nest 6, an embryo nest, was discovered at a private residence on April 8, 2024. Right: Nests 3 & 4, broken up, were found on October 11 & 18, 2023, in a private neighborhood in Thunderbolt.)
Additionally, at this stage of the year, yellow-legged hornet embryo nests closely resemble bald-faced hornet nests in size and appearance, making them easy to confuse. It's advisable to report any small nest you come across rather than attempting identification independently, particularly without the queen present. If you find a nest like the ones pictured below, we ask that you contact us via our YLH reporting form or email so that our experts can accurately identify the nest.

(Pictured: A bald-faced hornet and embryo nest comparison.)
GDA Notices
The GDA is coordinating eradication efforts with our state and federal partners, including USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, the University of Georgia, UGA – Extension, Clemson University, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, and the University of Florida. 
  • With queen activity confirmed, we have deployed additional traps in the Savannah area. 
    • In 2023, we had 170 traps. Our goal for 2024 is to have more than 1,000 traps.
  • We are increasing the number of dedicated staff in Savannah who assist with monitoring and detection.  
    • GDA and USDA staff are working together to monitor traps. 
Implementing New Technology
RFID Trackers: These are used to track hornets back to their nests.
  • These new trackers are lighter (.15 grams) than the previous trackers (.25 grams) used last year. The heavier trackers impacted the hornet's ability to fly, affecting our ability to track them. 

(Pictured: An RFID Tracker on a Yellow-legged Hornet.)
Wing Frequency Sensors: These sensors are calibrated to recognize the unique frequency of the YLH’s wingbeat and will alert our teams on the ground when they detect YLH activity. 

Public Awareness Campaigns
We continue to ask for the public’s help in our effort to eradicate the YLH from Georgia. 
  • Georgians who suspect they may have seen a YLH should report it to the GDA via our online form or yellow.legged.hornet@agr.georgia.gov.
  • Our team spent the winter educating key stakeholders in the Savannah area—beekeepers, County Extension Agents, Pest Control Operators, and others—and will continue to do so throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
  • The GDA has launched "Georgia Hornet Watch," a dedicated Facebook group for Yellow-legged Hornet information. Join us to share insights, stay updated on YLH developments, and collaborate on efforts toward eradicating this invasive species.
  • As part of our trapping program, we've released a DIY video guide to help Georgians create an effective Yellow-legged Hornet trap using common household materials.
We appreciate your assistance in helping us eradicate this serious threat to Georgia’s agriculture, our state’s number one industry.
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