Pest Control News

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Asian Hornet Arrives in the UK

The Asian hornet, an invasive, non-native species has been sighted in Devon. Spotted in late summer, there is now significant concern for the safety of our native bee species.

The Asian hornet – What is the problem?

Vespa veluntina is known as the ‘Asian hornet’ as it is a native species of Asia. It recently arrived in France where its spread is rapid. It is a highly successful predator of insects including honey bees and other species considered beneficial to the ecosystem. The losses to bee colonies are significant with some beekeepers and pest controllers dreading the potential impact on the environment.
A single specimen of an Asian hornet was seen in the UK last year. It was trapped in Somerset, with a nest destroyed in nearby Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
It is expected that in places, the Asian hornet could be found in significant numbers, especially in southern parts of England. The recent confirmed sightings of this invasive hornet in Devon is not the new beekeepers and pest controllers want to hear.

How does the Asian hornet reach our shores?

Contrary to what you may think, the Asian hornet doesn’t take up flight from the continent and fly to the UK. Rather, it is brought in on contaminated flowers and soils, as well as cut flowers, fruits and timber. It is active between April and November, but at its peak during August and September.

What can be done about this invasive species?

There is a concerted effort to track and destroy nests of this invasive hornet, of which pest controllers are a part. Surveillance zones have been created in North Devon, with a local control centre coordinating responses to sightings of the hornet.
Bee inspectors use traps as well as infrared cameras to track and locate hornet nets. Experts such as trained pest controllers are then brought in to kills the Hornets and destroy the nests.
Although they may be over 200 miles away, beekeepers in Kent are also vigilant regarding the Asian Hornet in order to protect native bee species.

What to look for…

Asian hornets are identified by;
·      The queen is around 3 cm in length with the workers being slightly smaller
·      The body is either entirely brown or black, with a fine yellow band border
·      The fourth abdominal segment is entirely yellow or orange
·      The legs are brown with yellow ends
·      It is active during the day, ceasing activity at dusk and overnight.

Have you seen an Asian hornet?

Remaining vigilant and taking action quickly is essential in order to protect the honey bee and other species. Although in the winter months, our bees and wasps hibernate, mated queens will spring into life come the warmer weather of spring – and the Asian hornet queen is no exception.
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