The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture is asking 0 Avenue residents to be on the lookout for Asian giant hornets. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey man suspects ‘huge’ visitor near 16 Ave. & 172 St. was Asian giant hornet

Reports sought online, as COVID-19 keeps techs from addressing phone-line issues

A request last week by the Invasive Species Council of BC for Surrey, White Rock, and Aldergrove residents to report local sightings of Asian giant hornets has left at least one man frustrated, after being sent “in circles” by the system people have been asked to report to.

Larry Roberts said he tried to call in a report earlier this week after spotting one of the suspected culprits near 16 Avenue and 172 Street.

READ MORE: Surrey’s 0 Avenue residents asked to watch for Asian giant hornets

“When you call the number or whatever, there’s nobody home,” Roberts told Peace Arch News Friday. “You just get nowhere.”

PAN’s attempts to get through to the line (1-888-933-3722), were also unsuccessful.

Reached Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the ISCBC investigated and confirmed “a problem” with the phone line, but said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may not be able to be addressed anytime soon.

The online reporting is still available, at http://bcinvasives.ca/report

Roberts said he did also try that avenue, and received an email response noting that he will be contacted by phone and asking him to send a photo of the specimen.

Roberts said snapping a photo was not top-of-mind for him at the time. He was cleaning a bus that his son uses for business when the encounter occurred.

“I had a little visitor come along as I was working there that was a huge, big hornet,” he said. “This thing was probably three or four times the size of a bee.”

Roberts said he wasn’t fazed by the insect, and simply waved it out the door, but believes it could mean there is a nest nearby.

“You see that with wasps,” he explained. “They’re looking for places to build a nest or find food or whatever. It wasn’t bothering me at all, it was just out snooping.”

In their appeal for reports last week, Ministry of Agriculture officials said that the large wasps – first found in B.C. last August, and spotted in White Rock in November – may emerge from their nests in the coming weeks and months. The invasives are well-known to prey on honeybees and are capable of destroying hives in a short period, a news release noted.

Roberts described his “visitor” as big enough to carry a small transmitter, and suggested that could be a way of locating a nest – if a specimen could be caught and fitted with a tiny device.

Putting a cap on the problem is important, he said.

“Unfortunately, bees do do an awful lot of good work for us, and if we start losing hives, it’s critical,” he said.

The ISCBC spokesperson said, so far, all hornet-sighting reports received have been determined to not have been the Asian giant.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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