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Ecol Evol. 2016 Mar 2;6(7):2170-8. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2011. eCollection 2016 Apr.

Design of an harmonic radar for the tracking of the Asian yellow-legged hornet.

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Dipartimento di Elettronica e Telecomunicazioni (DET) Politecnico di Torino Torino Italy.
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari (DISAFA) Universitá degli Studi di Torino Torino Italy.


The yellow-legged Asian hornet is an invasive species of wasps, indigenous to the Southeast Asia but recently spreading in Southern Europe. Because of its exponential diffusion and its serious threat to the local honeybee colonies (and to humans as well), restraint measures are currently under investigation. We developed and tested an harmonic radar capable of tracking the flying trajectory of these insects, once equipped with a small transponder, in their natural environment. Several hornets were captured close to a small cluster of honeybee hives, tagged with different transponders and then released in order to follow the flight toward their nest. On-field testing proved an initial maximum detection range of about 125 m in a hilly and woody area. A number of detections were clearly recorded, and preferential directions of flight were identified. The system herein described is intended as a first low-cost harmonic radar; it proved the capability to track the hornets while flying and it permitted to test the tagging techniques. Several upgrades of the system have been identified during this work and are extensively described in the last chapter. The designed system has three major advantages over conventional harmonic radars. First and most importantly, it adopts advanced processing techniques to suppress clutter and to improve target detection. Second, it allows radar operations in complex environments, generally hilly and rich in vegetation. Finally, it can continuously track tagged insects (24/7) and in any meteorological condition, providing an effective tool in order to locate the nests of the yellow-legged Asian hornet.


Asian hornet; Vespa velutina; harmonic radar; insect tracking

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