While this does not appear to be the species of Asian giant hornet we have blogged about so much over the past few years, it is nevertheless an invasive insect that preys on and is a threat to honeybees.

This past two years our Asian hornet postings have mostly been about the hornets found in the northwestern USA, in Washington state close to the Canadian border. However, we have posted about these Asian hornets that have been found in parts of the UK, France, and other parts of the world over the past few years.

The British National Bee Unit and Defra confirm that an Asian hornet was discovered in the Ascot area of Berkshire recently. They are asking the public and particularly beekeepers to be vigilant for any further members of the species in the area.

A nest was discovered and destroyed in Hampshire in 2020. This is the first confirmed sighting of the invasive species since.

The species found in the UK has been identified as the Vespa Velutina. While they are no deadlier to people that most other hornets, they are a big threat to honeybees and native wasps.

They can decimate entire honeybee colonies within hours, as well as other beneficial pollinators. They wait outside the bee colony for honeybees to come and go, then sever their heads to feed on the bee protein.  

This unrelated 1:38-minute video by Trees woods & forest gardens -- agroforestry arboriculture compares a wasp and hornet, both found in the UK:



The particular Asian hornet found in Ascot is mainly black with a yellow band near the rear end. In just one summer, a single colony can produce around 6,000 hornets.

If you see any suspected Asian hornets around the area, or anywhere for that matter, it is important that you report the incident as quickly as possible. Defra’s chief plant and bee health officer Nicola Spence explained that the sooner they are alerted to possible sightings, the sooner they can take swift and effective action to eradicate the threat posed by these Asian hornets.

They are currently busy investigating and trying to locate the origin of the confirmed sighting in the area.

In the UK there is an Asian hornet app and hotline, set up specifically to report any sightings. Ms. Spence asks the public to remain on the look out and report any possible sightings right away.

If you do not have the app the best way to report a suspected Asian hornet sighting is to email: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

You can read some of our earlier blog posts about these Asian hornets in the UK here and here.