The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), is an invasive, non-native species that originates from Asia. They are no more dangerous to humans than the native European hornets (Vespa crabro). However, they are predators of insects, such as honey bees, and can cause significant losses to bee colonies. Asian hornets are said to be able to kill up to 50 bees a day. The Asian hornet is much smaller than the European hornet, measuring around 25-30mm. Their abdomens are mostly black except for the fourth abdominal segment which is yellow.
The first sighting in Europe was in France in 2004, where a hornet was thought to have been brought with a shipment of pottery from China. By 2015, sightings had been reported across the majority of France and other parts of mainland Europe such as Italy, Spain and Portugal. The first sighting in mainland UK was near Tetbury, Gloucestershire in September 2016. The nest was quickly found and destroyed and no breeding adults were found. As yet, there have been no nests found in mainland UK in 2017. It is thought that UK sightings are most likely to be in southern parts of England or imported with overseas goods. The possibility that it could fly across the Channel has not been ruled out.
However, sighting of Asian Hornets are already widespread across the Channel Islands, with over 20 sighting already reported this year in Jersey alone. So far there have been two nests found in 2017, with one being a secondary nest that is thought to have had over 6,000 hornets. The local fire brigade was called in to assist in finding the nest using a drone. It is now more than likely that the Asian Hornets are well established in the Channel Islands and it may just be a matter of time before this is the case across mainland UK as well.
If you think you spot something that looks similar to an Asian hornet, get in touch with Pest Solution’s friendly and knowledgeable staff by clicking here.