Rome battles invasion of Oriental hornets

Rome activates phone number to report hornet sightings.

After the seagulls and wild boar, Rome is grappling with its latest "invasion" from the animal world: the Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis).

The large insects - not seen in the Italian capital since the 1950s - have been sighted in numerous areas of the centre in recent days, with media reports of the hornets flying off with dog kibble left on balconies.

The city has activated a freephone number - 800 854 854 - for citizens to report sightings of the reddish-brown and yellow insects and their nests.

Oriental hornets are attracted by rubbish - including spoiled meat and fish - and they make their nests underground as well as in hollows and crevices.

Rome's civil protection authorities, together with the municipal waste collection service AMA, are monitoring the situation and "intervening immediately in every case reported to us", said the city's environment councillor Sabrina Alfonsi.

Interventions have been carried out in the Aventino, Colle Oppio, San Saba and Piramide districts near the centre, with sightings reported in the Monteverde, Prati and EUR areas as well.

AMA is also busy carrying out inspections in the city's schools before the new academic year gets underway, according to Italian news reports.