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Bee on Flower

 Asian Hornet

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Photo credit: Isle of White Asian hornet action team

 

Asian hornets and their nests have been found and destroyed in the New Forest and along the South coast including Highcliffe and Poole areas in the past few years. The frequency of sightings and nests being found is likely to increase in 2024 onwards. Here is some key information to help you prepare you for this.

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Why is the Asian Hornet a Problem?

The Asian hornet is a highly effective non-native predator and our existing ecosystems have not had the time to adjust to this species.

 

The Asian hornet has a voracious appetite for some beneficial pollinators, particularly bees, moths and butterflies. British pollinators are already under stress due to a loss of habitat, increased use of pesticides and changes in the climate. The Asian hornet poses a significant new and additional threat to native British insect populations. Insects are a vital resource of food, and their loss affects many other species throughout the food chain.

 

The European hornet is native and therefore an established species, which helps to maintain the natural balance of other invertebrates, predating on other pollinators that are often regarded as garden and agricultural pests such as flies, beetles and wasps. European hornets don’t usually predate on bees. Asian hornets, on the other hand, are specialised bee predators.

 

Neither Asian or European hornet species is naturally aggressive, however they are both especially protective and defensive of their nests and when disturbed will attack.

 

Identifying Asian Hornets

Asian hornets (vespa velutina nigrithorax)

Asian hornets are slightly smaller than our European hornets, however the Asian hornet carries more venom and will sting repeatedly if intimidated.

 

Asian hornets are identifiable by their distinctive velvety black thorax and brown legs with yellow stockings. Asian hornets also carry an orange band around their fourth segment.

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European hornets (vespa crabo)

The European hornet (4 cm) is larger than the Asian hornet (3 cm) and has a brown thorax and legs plus a yellow and brown abdomen.

 

The Wildlife Trust provides useful information on how to identify the Asian hornet. The last image shows key differences between other pollinators.

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What can you do?

If you think you’ve seen an Asian hornet then please do the following:

 

See It, Snap It, App It

If you capture or see an AH, take a photo, report it via the free Asian Hornet Watch app (apple and android). Remember to take down a What3words location as well as a grid reference as postcodes cover a large area in the New Forest. Alternatively you can email this address:   alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. with your findings.

Stay vigilant

We need your help to increase the awareness about the Asian hornet and the harm they can cause as well as to be vigilant and report any suspected sighting. The time to act is now.

 

As we live and work on/or close to the coast we have frequent contact with France and the Channel Islands. If you are travelling from France or anywhere else in Europe, you should thoroughly check your boat, caravan and/or car for Asian hornet stowaways to prevent importation. 

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How do I keep up to date?

If you want learn more about the Asian hornet, please check out these sites:

 

•   BBKA (British Beekeepers’ Association)

•   NNSS (GB Non-native Species Secretariat)

•   Wildlife Trust

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