Britons urged to keep eye out for Asian hornets over the summer

android, britons urged to keep eye out for asian hornets over the summer

72 Asian hornet nests were destroyed last year in the UK - JEAN-PIERRE MULLER/AFP

Britons are being urged by the Government to keep an eye out for invasive Asian hornets this summer amid a record year for the invasive insect in 2023.

A total of 72 Asian hornet nests were destroyed last year in the UK, with the majority found in Kent.

There have been only 85 nests found in total since 2016, with last year marking a significant advance in the scourge of the Asian hornet.

Eight Asian hornets have so far been spotted in 2024, with five in East Sussex, two in Kent and one in East London.

The Asian hornet is an invasive species that is not native to the UK and is not yet established here, but Government experts are seeking help from the public to track the insect this year.

British hornets are larger and yellower, with the Asian hornets having black bodies and yellow leg ends. The animals are no threat to human health but can destroy native honey bee hives and populations.

Scientists at Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency are trying to determine if any of last year’s Asian hornets managed to stay in the UK over the winter by setting up specialist traps in the south east and North Yorkshire.

Defra’s chief plant and bee health officer Nicola Spence said: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, the public can help us take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.

“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, they can damage honey bee colonies and harm other pollinators.

“Please continue to be vigilant for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”

There is an app which people can download and log any Asian hornet sightings in, called Asian Hornet Watch, which is available on iPhone and Android.

android, britons urged to keep eye out for asian hornets over the summer

Asian hornets usually nest high up in trees and in manmade structures - PETER KENNEDY/PA

Members of the public who believe they have seen an Asian hornet should not disturb an active nest and instead they should take a photo and report it to the authorities using the app.

Asian hornets usually nest high up in trees and in manmade structures. They have a diet of fruit, flowers and honey bees, as well as other insects.

The Great Britain non-native species secretariat says the species is “not easily confused with any other species”.

The species was found in France in 2004 and since then has spread rapidly, with experts saying there is a “high possibility of introduction” to the UK via imports from the continent, such as soil, cut flowers, fruit, garden furniture.

They could also be inadvertently carried to the UK by freight, in vehicles crossing the channel, or in/on untreated timber.

“The possibility that it could fly across the Channel has not been ruled out,” the NNSS says.

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