Stop Press! Stop this Pest!
Join the Asian Hornet Watch
The Asian Hornet, vespa velutina, is an aggressive predator of honey bees and other beneficial insects. Since a fertilised Asian Hornet queen arrived in France in 2004, inside a box of imported Chinese clay pots in which it had hibernated, it has spread to Spain, Majorca, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Germany and the Channel Islands. Over 50% of the hives in these countries have been destroyed, along with other insects on which small birds depend for their survival. Each Asian Hornet nest can produce 200 queens in one season. Once established, it can spread at the distance of 100km each year.
Its sting can also be fatal to humans.
The Asian Hornet is the Putin of the insect world: small, but dangerous with invasive intent!
In Asia, bees and the other insect populations have co-existed with the Asian Hornet for thousands of years. They have developed strategies for evading and destroying it, but the European bees and insects do not have the benefits of this knowledge and experience, which is why they are so vulnerable to its attacks.
Since 2016 Asian Hornets have been seen from time to time in the UK. mainly in the south of England, but they are now appearing more often further north. On each occasion they have been successfully tracked and their nests destroyed. Two weeks ago, one was found in Northumberland in a container of vegetables. This reminds us that it could arrive in Cumbria very soon.
Cumbria is a perfect habitat for the Asian Hornet. It has trees to provide the wood that it needs to create the pulp to build its nests and in which the nests can remain hidden from view in the canopy of tall trees; sources of water to enable it to mulch the wood into the pulp; plentiful supplies of bees and other insects for its food. It also thrives in damp, cooler conditions. The Asian Hornet may arrive as a tourist, but when it does, it will be here to stay!!
Early detection, so that the Asian Hornet can be tracked and its nests destroyed, is essential. During your walks in the countryside or when you are working in your garden, remain alert to the possibility of seeing an Asian Hornet. If you think you have seen one, do not touch it. Instead follow the 3 simple steps to begin the track and trace process:
i) SPOT it
ii) SNAP it on your camera/ phone
iii) SEND the image to attached to an email if you don’t have a smart phone or via the new Asian Hornet Watch app.
Computer systems sift through the images that are received. Pictures of other types of hornets/ wasps are rejected. When a picture of the Asian Hornet is recognised then swat teams of beekeepers are sent into the area to find and track them back to their nest. Nests are then destroyed and removed overnight using specialist equipment.
Your vigilance will stop this pest! The battle to control it has been lost on the continent. It has just begun here. It likes hitching a lift in caravans, cars and luggage when our holiday makers return from the continent. Please check your luggage carefully before you leave for the UK to make sure it is not hiding away to makes its escape when you arrive home!
Other types of hornets which are native species to the UK are not the target. Electronic copies of an Asian Hornet identification chart to help you identify the ‘enemy’ and differentiate it from other hornets, can be downloaded for you to use and circulate to your friends.Asian Hornet identification chart 001