Asian hornets

Asian hornet warning: Hundreds of killer insects set to plague the UK this summer

Daily Express

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) was first seen in the UK in Gloucestershire in 2016. To date, there have been 13 confirmed sightings of the Asian hornet and six nests have been destroyed. DEFRA says there have been no sightings in the UK since 14 October 2018, though there have been sightings this year on Jersey.

The Asian hornet is an invasive species, established already in continental Europe where they arrived from east Asia in 2004.

Gigantic murderous Asian hornets set to invade UK as Britain faces ‘hottest spring’ on record

Birmingham Mail

It is sightly smaller than our native European hornet, dark in colour and only the fourth abdominal segment is yellow or orange; it has very distinctive yellow legs.

The Asian hornet hunts a wide range of insects, including flies, dragonflies and grasshoppers and many solitary and colonial bee species; they capture their prey by pursuit. When they find a bee colony, Asian hornets tend to concentrate their nest’s hunting on that one colony. A hornet will stake out a hunting territory above a beehive; it hovers over a small area scanning for foraging bees returning to the hive. As soon as it catches a bee it flies off and another hornet replaces it, usually within a few seconds.

They have caused considerable losses to the French beekeeping industry.

Deadly Asian hornets that can KILL with one sting feared to be heading for UK

The Mirror

In their native range, eastern Asia, Asian hornets hunt the eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) which has evolved strategies for avoiding the hornets. They enter and exit the hive very quickly when there are hornets about. Apis cerana bees also know how to smother hornets to death; hundreds of them surround the hornet and vibrate their wings, raising the temperature high enough inside the cluster of bees to kill the hornet.

The western honey bee (Apis mellifera) has not been subjected to the same selective pressures. For example, Apis mellifera approach their hive indirectly and more slowly when they detect hornets, instead of darting in as fast as possible. They can smother other predators but they cannot achieve a high enough temperature to kill a hornet. For the Asian hornet, our honey bees are a pushover; easy meat.

UK braced for invasion of killer Asian hornets that KILL with just ONE sting

The Sun

Only one person in Britain has been stung by an Asian hornet and he suffered no more pain than from any other wasp or bee sting. Only those people with bee venom allergies are in any real danger. Asian hornets are more aggressive than our native European hornets and are very defensive around their nest; the single victim, a resident of Jersey, disturbed a nest while cutting a hedge.

We are asked to report sightings of Asian hornets. They are considered to be a significant risk not only to our beekeeping industry but to all our pollinating insects, which have already suffered a 60% decline in biomass, the result of habitat loss and modern farming techniques.

There are several ways to report a sighting of an Asian hornet and GOV.UK have published the details here .

Britain braces for an invasion of deadly Asian hornets – and they can kill with a single sting

Manchester Evening News

Surely we are in enough trouble without the imaginary monsters created in the fevered minds of tabloid headline writers. We must listen to the experts, read the research and focus on the facts if we are to mend any of the damage we have done to our environment.


Header picture: Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) by Charles J Sharp (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Another invasive species maligned by the media:

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