Vespa Velutina - the Asian Hornet

This insect is not native to the UK and is not currently present, but it was recently introduced to the south of France and has quickly worked its way up towards The Channel. Because goods move freely through Europe, it is only a matter of time until the first queen migrates to our shores.

It is an extremely aggressive predator and a colony of Asian hornets will decimate a colony of honeybees in a few hours. A single queen will establish a colony early in spring and will raise thousands of worker hornets and hundreds of young queens, which will come through winter and start their own colonies.

Once established, this species will be very hard to eradicate. The best defence is observation and vigilence.

Hornet Traps
A hornet trap

HORNET TRAPS are being posted at apiaries across Hampshire and elsewhere.

The traps are designed to catch the Queen hornet and should be in place by February. Once set, they should be inspected as often as possible - ideally daily. Take a clear sealable plastic bag such as a freezer bag with you each time you visit the trap. Never remove the lid without first inspecting the contents of the capture chamber.

If you are completely certain there are no Asian hornets in the chamber, then open the lid to release the entire catch (see the description of Asian hornet on this information sheet .
It is extremely important that any non-target insects caught in the trap are released as soon as possible, without harm.

If you suspect that you may have caught an Asian hornet, place the whole trap into the freezer bag and seal it tightly, place the bag containing the trap into a domestic freezer. Notify the Non Native Species Secretariat immediately at their helpdesk or on their website . It could help if you take a photo and attach it to your email.

Identification

Unlike Asian hornets, European hornets are native to UK and are not a threat to our pollinators. The two species can be differentiated quite easily -

Vespa velutina
Asian Hornet
The body is entirely dark and is velvet; the fourth abdominal segment is yellow
The legs are brown with yellow socks
The queen is up to 30 mm in length and is 7 mm wide
Vespa crabro
European Hornet
The abdomen is mostly yellow and orange
The legs have no yellow colouration
The queen is up to 35 mm in length and 8 mm wide - larger than the Asian hornet