Asian hornet invasion in the UK – the latest

Asian hornets in the UK have been a topic making the headlines recently, causing concern among the public and environmental and conservation experts. These invasive insects are known for their potential threat to honeybee populations and can cause painful stings, so it’s important to raise awareness of their presence and how to identify them.

What are Asian hornets and what do they look like?

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina) are originally native to East Asia. They are dark-coloured with fine yellow bands but have a distinctive orange-yellow area on their fourth abdominal segment. This key feature sets them apart from other hornets and wasps in the UK.

This type of hornet is around 2.5 to 3cm in length and known for its predatory nature and hunting skills, primarily feeding on other insects, such as bees. A single Asian hornet can kill multiple honeybees in a short period, making them a significant threat to bee populations.

Asian Hornet Invasion In The Uk

Why are Asian hornets in the UK?

Asian hornets are believed to have first arrived in Europe via goods imported from East Asia, primarily in France in 2004, gradually spreading across the continent. Climate change and warmer temperatures in recent years may have facilitated their migration to new regions, including the UK.

Hornets are also known to be excellent hitchhikers, stowing away in vehicles or shipping containers, which can inadvertently transport them elsewhere.

Where have Asian hornets been spotted in the UK?

Asian hornet sightings have been reported in various parts of the UK since 2016, often along the southern coast and surrounding areas where it’s warmer. This includes hornet nests found in areas of Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hampshire, just in September 2023 alone.

Efforts are being made to track and control the spread of these invasive insects as Asian hornets are known for their rapid colony growth, with the potential to establish nests in a variety of environments, such as trees and buildings. Sightings have occurred not only in rural areas but also in urban locations, posing a challenge for authorities and beekeepers.

You can find out more about Asian hornet sightings in the UK through the Government website here.

How do you get rid of Asian hornets?

Vigilance, reporting and professional intervention are the best methods of managing invasive Asian hornet species, preventing their further spread in the UK and protecting honeybee populations.

Hornet nest removals should only be carried out by trained pest controllers, who can execute a variety of techniques to manage the issue. This includes laying specialist hornet traps to capture the hornets close to their homes, as well as safe nest removals.

Do you have concerns about wasps or hornets? Speak to our team

As Effective Pest Solutions, we offer professional solutions for insect invasions, including bees, wasps and hornets. For free advice and a no-obligation quote, get in touch.

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