Asian Hornet


Vespa velutina, the yellow legged hornet, commonly known as the Asian hornet, is native to Asia and was confirmed for the first time in Lot-et-Garonne in the South West of France in 2004. It was thought to have been imported in a consignment of pottery from China and it quickly established and spread to many regions of France. As of December 2022, Asian hornet is established in Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Jersey. The hornet preys on a wide range of insects including honeybees, Apis mellifera and disrupts the ecological role they provide.

In 2016, the Asian hornet was discovered in the UK for the first time, in Tetbury. After 10 days of intensive searching, the nest was found and later destroyed. In subsequent years there have been further sightings with action taken to find and destroy nests.

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet, with adult workers measuring from 25mm in length and queens measuring 30mm. The abdomen is mostly black except for the fourth abdominal segment which has a yellow band. It has characteristically yellow legs which accounts for why it is often called the yellow legged hornet and its face is orange with two brownish red compound eyes.

If you think you have seen an Asian hornet, please notify the Great British Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) immediately. In the first instance sightings should be reported through the free Asian Hornet Watch App, available for Android and iPhone.

Other methods of reporting the hornet also include using the NNSS online notification form. Finally, you can send any suspect sightings to the Non Native Species email address alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Where possible, a photo, the location of the sighting and a description of the insect seen should be included.

If you would like to know more about the Asian hornet or any other Invasive Species, the NNSS website provides a great deal of information about the wide ranging work that is being done to tackle invasive species and tools to facilitate those working in this area.

It is also important that beekeepers sign up to BeeBase. In the event that the Asian hornet (or any other exotic threat to honeybee colonies) arrives here, efforts to contain it will be seriously jeopardised if we don’t know where vulnerable apiaries are located.