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
Asian hornets were seen in the UK in 2016. A single specimen was trapped in Somerset and a nest was destroyed near Tetbury in Gloucesestershire. (See the update from the National Bee Unit).
It is still expected that the places it is most likely to be found in numbers are in southern parts of England (it may be able to cross the channel from France) or in 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 an Asian Hornet
Take a picture and email it with details of where you saw it and your contact details and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org