There are European hornets (Vespa crabro) still hunting in the Lone Oak.
We have never found a nest in the reserve but we see them hunting here every year, sometimes right up until the first frost. While the species is still quite rare in this country, changing temperatures have extended their range as far north as southern Yorkshire.
The Lone Oak photographed by DKG
European hornets are carnivores and prey upon other flying insects; some species of midge hatch in late autumn in oak trees and perhaps that is what has drawn the hornets to the Lone Oak so late in the year. Sometimes we have seen at least a hundred of them hawking around the tree’s upper branches. Those that leave the hunting party, presumably with prey, fly off towards Sleeper Field so there could be a nest somewhere in the woods.
They are mild mannered and, unlike the vicious Asian Hornet, will only sting if squashed or attacked. They do hunt honey bees but not with the same dedication as the Asian species.
Please, keep a look out for their nest; we would love to know that they nest in the reserve.
Header image: European hornet by Aconcagua, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons