I’m never a fan of introducing foreign species in an attempt to eliminate domestic pests but this one sounds like it just might work out OK. Giant Asian hornets have been slaughtering honeybees in France since they hitched a ride from China in some imported pottery in 2004. Now the killer may become the victim as a carnivorous plant from the U.S. has developed a taste for killer hornets and could help wipe them out.
The hornet eater is the North American Sarracenia plant, a beautiful easy-to-cultivate pitcher plant with long trumpet-like flowers that create nectar and pheromones to attract bugs that that land on the edge and slide the slippery slope down the sides into the digestive trap at the bottom. The Sarracenia is not a self-pollinator so, while it’s not picky about eating most insects, it spares bees and bee-like hornets and wasps that help it pollinate.
Until now. French botanist Romaric Perrocheau was studying a Sarracenia plant when he opened the stem of one and found it full of dead Asian wasps (Vespa velutina nigrithorax). These are the notorious bee-killing “hornets from hell” whose sting can kill a human but whose swarming masses are deadly to the already hurting bee populations. Since showing up in France in 2004, the Asian hornets have spread to Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal and only the Channel is keeping them from Great Britain.
Perrocheau thinks Asian hornets fall prey to the Sarracenia because they are smaller than bees and European hornets and more aggressive, causing them to lose their footing and slip into the trap.
This sounds like the perfect solution except for one small hitch … the typical nest can hold up to 4,000 hornets and even the hungriest Sarracenia can only eat about 50 of them at a sitting. Perrocheau believes he can isolate the chemicals in the nectar that attract the Asian hornets and use it as bait in conventional traps.
In the meantime, maybe he can sprinkle the Sarracenia plants with a little cannabis and give them the munchies.