Combining surveys and on-line searching volumes to analyze public awareness about invasive alien species: a case study with the invasive Asian yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina) in Italy

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.73.80359. This is version 2 of this Preprint.

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Authors

Jacopo Cerri , Simone Lioy, Marco Porporato, Sandro Bertolino

Abstract

The Asian yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina) has been invading Italy since 2013, and it was subjected to management projects aimed at counteracting its spread and raising awareness about its impacts.
In autumn 2019, we administered an on-line questionnaire to a convenience sample of 358 beekeepers in Italy. The questionnaire asked them about their sources of information about V. velutina, their perception of its potential impacts, and its severity compared to that of other threats to beekeeping. We also explored Internet searching volumes on Google and Wikipedia about V. velutina, to identify seasonal and long-term trends in public awareness.
Workshops, journals or bulletins, the Internet and word-of-mouth with colleagues were the main sources of information about V. velutina. Beekeepers believed V. velutina to affect beekeeping by predating upon honey bees (Apis mellifera), paralyzing foraging, reducing honey availability and depleting the winter cluster. Moreover, V. velutina was ranked, especially among beekeepers from the invaded range of the species, as one of the most serious threats to honey bees conservation, similarly to other threats like pesticides and the varroa mite (Varroa destructor). Internet searches peaked during the activity period of the species and increased over time, with thousands of visits to Wikipedia each month.
This study constitutes a first quantification of the perceived awareness of beekeepers and the general public, about the problem represented by V. velutina in Italy, and it also indicates which media should be targeted by information campaigns. Our findings indicate that beekeepers seem to be aware about the potential impacts of V. velutina in Italy, both within and outside of its invaded area, considering it a major threat to beekeeping. Moreover, information campaigns on the Internet and specialized magazines might be useful to communicate about the impacts of the species, and the need to develop diffused surveillance networks.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.32942/osf.io/j3vmd

Subjects

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Entomology, Life Sciences, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Other Life Sciences

Keywords

beekeeping, biological invasions, Google, GoogleTrends, invasive alien species, Vespa velutina, Wkipedia

Dates

Published: 2020-11-13 09:29

Last Updated: 2022-06-28 18:31

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License

CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data will be provided in the Supplementary Information