Public asked to keep an eye out for Asian hornets

Part of the poster that can be downloaded

Part of the poster that can be downloaded

An appeal has gone out to the public to be vigilant spotting Asian hornets in the next few weeks.

Although sightings have been very rare, the concern is that the species could become established if any incidents of an Asian hornet being spotted are not flagged up immediately to the authorities.

The Angling Trust’s south-east enforcement officer says: “The discovery of an Asian hornet at a supermarket distribution centre in Scotland reinforces the need for vigilance for this invasive pest.

“Now is the time when Asian hornet queens start to emerge from hibernation and we need to intercept them before they start to build their nests. If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet please report this to us straight away using the alert email address: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk with a location (and photo if possible).”

The first recorded sighting of the invasive pest was in Glucestershire last September and there is a determination to ensure any further sightings are quickly reported.

The officer says: “The outbreak in Gloucestershire last autumn was contained by the Government’s quick response and speedy reporting by the public.

“We can only keep this pest from establishing in the UK if we have rapid reporting of any findings and the assistance of the public and stakeholders is vital for this. Early interception and reporting are key.”

An ID sheet and Alert Poster are available at http://www.nonnativespecies.org//downloadDocument.cfm?id=872 and http://www.nonnativespecies.org//downloadDocument.cfm?id=646

The Asian hornet can be particularly harmful to wasps and bee colonies.

Individual stings are painful for humans but not a major health concern, although if stung a number of times the danger increases.

According to the Non Native Species Secretariat, the Asian honet orginated in the area bordered by Northern India and China, as well as the Indo-Chinese peninsula and Indonesian archipelago.

Individuals of the sub-species nigrithorax, introduced into France, are presumed to be from China.

The climate of their native range in continental Asia is similar to that of Southern Europe.

They were first recorded in France in 2005 and thought to have arrived in a container of pottery from China before 2004 through the port of Bordeaux.

The hornet has since spread rapidly throughout neighbouring areas.

Breeding was also confirmed in northern Spain in 2010 and Belgium in 2011 and the Channel Isles in the summer 2016.