First confirmed sighting of invasive Asian hornet in Great Britain

800px-vespa_velutina_nigrithorax_by-didier-descouens-own-workcc-by-sa-4-0via-wikimediacommons
By Didier Descouens – CC-By-SA-4-0

The invasive Asian hornet (Vespa velutina var. nigrithorax) has been confirmed for the first time in Great Britain.

The Asian hornet is a highly aggressive predator of native insects and poses a significant threat to honeybees and other pollinators. The arrival the Asian hornet has been long anticipated in Great Britain as it has been spreading rapidly since it was first recorded in France in 2004.

A contingency response plan has been put into action in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire where it was seen.

Work to identify, destroy and remove any nests is already underway, which includes:

  • setting up a 3 mile surveillance zone around Tetbury
  • opening a local control centre to coordinate the response
  • deploying bee inspectors across the area who will use infrared cameras and traps to locate any nests
  • readying nest disposal experts who will use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy any nests.

For more information on the sighting and response in Great Britain see the GB Non-native Species Secretariat website: www.nonnativespecies.org//news/index.cfm?id=227  

**Up-date:  Asian hornet nest found and destroyed in Tetbury area: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-37550428. Asian hornet also confirmed from north of Mendip Hills in Somerset: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/news/index.cfm?archive=true 

Asian hornet is not known to be present in Ireland but please become familiar with its identity and if you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet please report it immediately to the National Biodiversity Data Centre with a photo to http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives or e-mail invasives@biodiversityireland.ie.

You can download a quick identification guide that compares identity of the Asian hornet with the native Greater horntail wasp which it is most commonly confused with in Ireland.  It is commonly confused with the European hornet in GB but this is not present in Ireland. Download Asian hornet comparison identification guide.

In 2015, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine produced a Bee Pest Information Note on Asian hornet see: asianhornetinfosheet120515