Vespa velutina, sometimes known as the 'Asian hornet' is an invasive non-native species from Asia. It has recently arrived in France where it is spreading rapidly. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, other native species and potentially ecosystems
Although it is not yet present in the UK, it is considered likely to arrive soon. The places it is most likely to be found are in southern parts of England (it may be able to cross the channel from France) or goods among which it could be accidentally imported (such as soil with imported pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and timber). Active between April and November (peak August/September).
What to look out for:
- Vespa velutina queens are up to 3 cm in length; workers up to 25 mm (slightly smaller than the native European hornet Vespa crabro)
- Entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band
- Only one band on the abdomen: 4th abdominal segment almost entirely yellow/orange
- Legs brown with yellow ends
- Head black with an orange-yellow face
- Vespa velutina is a day flying species which, unlike the European hornet, ceases activity at dusk
If you think you have seen one take a picture and email it with details of where you saw it and your contact information to the Non Native Species Secretariat - for more information go to their website.
If it is safe to do so,you can send in a sample to the National Bee Unit for examination to confirm identity. However, do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest.