British Fire Department Drone Sprayed With Hornet Venom

When the Jersey Department for the Environment flew a drone up a tree to investigate an Asian hornet's nest...the insects attacked.

Arterra / UIG via Getty

Ah, the troubles that plague UAVs in Great Britain. When Jersey’s Department for the Environment sent a fire service drone to investigate an Asian hornet’s nest, they weren’t expecting the wasps to be drawn out by the drone’s propellers—and to attack the UAV with venom. But that, it seems, is exactly what happened. 

The crew was inspecting the nest with the drone’s high-resolution cameras, as well as infrared, when the hornets “swarmed out” and sprayed the drone with their venom, hornets “swarmed out” and sprayed the drone with their venom, according to the BBC

Reportedly, the nest which was located near a quarry in la Crête, St. Martin in the Channel Isle of Jersey, was thought to contain around 6,000 hornets. The Jersey Fire and Rescue Service piloted the drone into the trees where the nest was thought to be located, in order to acquire a clearer image of the nest before establishing a plan of action.

According to DroneLife, the drone in question was a DJI Inspire. 

Jersey Fire and Rescue Service

Prepping the DJI Inspire for nest inspection.

This, by the way, is exactly why drones are so useful in a vast variety of scenarios. Had somebody investigated this nest prior to realizing it was a potentially-dangerous Asian hornet nest, significant injury or death could've occurred. Instead, a drone was sprayed with venom—as opposed to a person getting stung—and authorities can now plan their next move with less worry.

According to Frank Raimbault of Pestokill Environmental, the crews in question may return with chainsaws in order to navigate through the tree’s canopy, so that they can cover the nest with a net and spray it with pesticides. 

Bob Hogge of the Jersey Beekeepers Association is adamant that time is of the essence. He says, “It is vital that we get rid of the nest in the next few weeks before the queens emerge because there are about 200 queens in each nest and once they're out and mated they're lost to us. And if each one of those makes a nest like this one, very soon the island will be overrun.” 

Authorities ask the public to please report any sightings of further nests in the area, so they can be inspected, then removed safely and rapidly.