Mostly black with one yellow-orange band, yellow legs, orange face
Like a large wasp,
has yellow & black stripes
British beekeepers have been concerned for some time that the Asian hornet, first discovered in Europe in SW France in 2005, was travelling northwards. These insects are voracious predators of honeybees and all other pollinators and, if they become established in large numbers, will have a serious effect on insect numbers and subsequently on birds too as their food is depleted.
In 2018, the island of Jersey was overrun with Asian hornet nests. On the mainland, we have seen single hornets found at Hull, Bury, Guildford and Liskeard and two nests destroyed at Fowey and in September, one very close to home at New Alresford. The National Bee Unit (NBU)’s inspectors are working to confirm numerous sightings along the south coast and destroy nests when found, and local beekeeping organisations are monitoring traps and disseminating information locally.
Asian hornets are slightly smaller but wider than our European hornets, which look like large wasps. They are predominantly black or dark brown, with a yellow-orange stripe near the end of the abdomen; the face is orange and the ends of the legs are yellow – hence it is also known as the name Yellow Legged Hornet. In autumn, numerous queens emerge from the nests looking for hibernation sites before establishing new nests in the spring. Autumn and early spring monitoring and reporting is vital.
The hornets are no more dangerous than our native hornets but will attack if a nest is disturbed. Most nests are high in trees, but some may be in hedges or sheds and greenhouses.
It is critical that these non-native insects are reported if seen and people are urged to be vigilant, especially near water.
If you think you have seen an Asian hornet - the NBU request that you notify the Great British Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) immediately, either:
A photograph or a sample of a dead insect helps ensure quick, accurate identification.
Farnham Beekeepers have an Asian Hornet Action Team which will work in tandem with the NBU to help identify nest sites. If you are concerned you might have seen an Asian Hornet and would like advice, please contact Diane Cook via email or on 01428 654303 / 07769 971720; Farnham Beekeepers can also be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.