Asian Hornet found in UK [Update]

The National Bee Unit have confirmed today 20th September 2016 that the Asian hornet has been spotted in Tetbury area of Gloucestershire. A control zone is being set up within a radius of three miles of the sighting and a search for nests made. Bee inspectors have been put on alert.

Update 5th October 2016: the Tetbury area nest has now been identified and destroyed. However, a further sighting has been confirmed in Somerset and this nest is currently being hunted. Beekeepers should remain vigilant, setting and monitoring wasp/hornet traps around their hives- report any sightings as specified below.

The Asian hornet reached France in 2004, and was spotted in the Channel Islands in August 2016. Slightly smaller than the European Hornet (Vespa crabro), and not to be confused with the Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia), the Asian Hornet (Vespa Velutina) poses a threat to honey bee populations as an extremely effective predator.

Vespa Velutina - photo Didier Descouens from WikiMedia used under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International license

Vespa Velutina – photo Didier Descouens, see footnote

  • Vespa velutina queens are up to 3cm (1.2in) in length; workers up to 2.5cm (1in)
  • Entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band
  • Only one band on the abdomen: fourth abdominal segment almost entirely yellow/orange
  • Legs brown with yellow ends
  • Head black with an orange-yellow face

To check the ID characteristics of the Asian Hornet see this Non-native Species leaflet. Any suspected Asian hornet sightings should be reported to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk . When emailing, please include your name, the location of the sighting and if possible, a photograph of the hornet.

For further info see the National Bee Unit information page, this Defra press release and this Guardian news article.

Photo: courtesy Didier Descouens from herereproduced under WikiMedia Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International license
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