The Science of Nature

, 106:15 | Cite as

Reproductive interference by alien hornet Vespa velutina threatens the native populations of Vespa simillima in Japan

  • Kazuhisa Yamasaki
  • Ryoichi Takahashi
  • Reona Harada
  • Yuya Matsuo
  • Masao Nakamura
  • Jun-ichi TakahashiEmail author
Short Communication


The yellow-legged hornet Vespa velutina has become one of the major alien species in European and East Asian countries. As in its homeland, the invading V. velutina is reported as the major predator of honeybees and is becoming a threat to beekeeping in Europe. However, it remains unknown how V. velutina might affect native hornets when it invades Asia, where a large number of Vespa species are distributed. Thus, by analyzing the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene, we investigated whether interspecific mating occurs between V. velutina and Japanese native Vespa spp. Our results showed that the alien V. velutina causes reproductive interference in Japanese native hornet Vespa simillima. Forty-three percent of native V. simillima queens had the sperm of V. velutina males, and among the all V. simillima queens analyzed, 28% only had V. velutina sperm. We did not find evidence of V. velutina queens having the sperm of V. simillima males. These findings suggest that reproductive interference by V. velutina males poses a threat to the native V. simillima populations. A decline of V. simillima may also negatively affect other insects that interact with V. simillima.


Reproductive interference Mitochondrial DNA Vespa Invasion Alien species 



We thank the people of Tsushima, Tsushima Traditional Beekeeper Association, Tsushima City Hall, and Ministry of Environment, Government of Japan, for aiding this study. We also appreciate Yoshiaki Sakai, Tatsumi Yamamura, and Takuya Kiyoshi who provided the samples.

Funding information

This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant no. 17K07575.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kazuhisa Yamasaki
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ryoichi Takahashi
    • 2
  • Reona Harada
    • 2
  • Yuya Matsuo
    • 2
  • Masao Nakamura
    • 2
  • Jun-ichi Takahashi
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem Services, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoNishitokyoJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Life SciencesKyoto Sangyo UniversityKyotoJapan

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