Creating a Vespa Velutina tracker with Arducopter

Hello Community,

As I am beekeeper in my spare time, I have known since last summer a very strong infestation from Vespa Velutina hornets.
As the only real efficient option is to kill their nest, I would like to develop a radio system that is able to track them as they fly back to the nest.
Here is the plan:

  • Catch a vespa velutina and stick on it a very very light radio emitter (should be in the range of 0.5 to 1g max)
  • Follow the radio signal to track him to the nest
  • Kill the nest… (or rather call a specialist to kill it)

As Vespa Velutina hornets can fly up to 1 to 2km max. from their nest, I would probably need to track the signal from a drone not to lose it, which is when it gets a bit too tricky for me.

Does somebody has a clue about how to do this?
I fly quads based on Pixhawk 4 and Raspberry Pi, so I can adapt a lot of different stuff provided I can interface them with USB, UART or I2C

Thanks very much for your great advices

Bonjour Guillaume

That is an interesting challenge and I started by trying to read on what has been done on the subject. This one seems quite efficient:
An Innovative Harmonic Radar to Track Flying Insects: the Case of Vespa velutina

The drawback is that it requires a 1Kw Radar unit is certainly unaffordable.
Maybe an array of 24 Hgz radars could be used to pinpoint hornet traffic and then redeploy according to pattern to find the nest?

The sensors could connect to each other using some kind of mwesh network like the ZigBee radios (No pun intended) and collected back to a master station that could map the hornet flight path.

You would oubviosly need to build some kind of reflector/transponder like shown here:
Transponder attached on an Asian hornet’s thorax. The transponder (left) is glued to the hornet’s thorax (right) with the help of a small paper support; an orthodontic glue is required to quickly fasten the tag.

Edit - More reading this is a comparative study of 3 methods to track

It show thes pico size radios manufacturers


It seems thay have adapted this radio:

Another supplier:

Additionnal reading

We present two frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) harmonic radar prototypes for application in insect tracking. They respectively operate in the maritime radar allocations of the S-band and X-band. Short-range operation ensures that the modules are compact enough to be used as portable instruments or even mounted onto an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Thanks very much for these very interesting inputs!!
It sounds like a top notch project, I think maybe a bit too much for my skills but I’ll consider and keep the community posted in case I make progress on it. In the meantime any person able to share thoughts or information on this is very welcome
Vespa Velutina is a plague…