LOOK OUT for ASIAN HORNET
Vespa Velutina on white camellia
Invading Asian hornets may have arrived here last summer and produced Queens to over-winter in hibernation and emerge this spring to build their primary nests. Spring Equinox is on Wednesday 20th (at 21:58 hrs to be precise) and as the evenings draw out temperatures should improve day by day allowing the Hornets to come out of their cosy hiding places.
As the weather improves and you can get out into the garden, please look out for hornets:
Asian hornets have swept up through France and Spain over the last few years and are in the process of establishing here. Several nests were found in the UK last year. These hornets multiply rapidly over the summer and need protein in large quantities for their grubs. They kill other insects to feed their young and cause enormous losses in the populations of pollinating insects, including honey bees. The only way DEFRA and the National Bee Unit can control their spread is if the public are vigilant and report any that are seen.
The earliest sightings tend to be around now in the spring when queen hornets are feeding on camellia flowers (bushes with single-petalled flowers are more popular than the doubles). They look different from our native European hornets - the invading ones are black, with an orange band near the very back of the abdomen. There are clear pictures comparing them on the Internet.
To report a sighting by email use [email protected] and include a photo if possible. If you are unable to get a photo, contact your nearest beekeeping branch and someone will come out to monitor a saucer of wasp bait to get a picture and confirm the sighting, before a DEFRA team comes out to track down the nest. You can also find an APP for identifying and reporting Asian Hornet on these links:
For anyone especially interested, there is good footage of about twenty seconds showing clearly what they look like, at around 20.20, in this documentary from Italy: