Asian Hornets: What the terrifying insects are and what to do if you spot one in the UK

Asian Hornets are slightly smaller than the native European Hornet, and while they’re not usually dangerous to humans, they pose a risk to honey bees and pollinating insects

Whether it’s bees or wasps, many Brits aren’t the biggest fans of insects.

Now, there’s another insect to look out for this summer, in the form of the Asian Hornet.

The species is not native to the UK, but has previously been spotted in various locations, including Staffordshire, Hampshire and Kent.

Asian Hornets are slightly smaller than the native European Hornet, and while they’re not usually dangerous to humans, they pose a risk to honey bees and pollinating insects.

Speaking to Mirror Online, Professor Helen Roy, an ecologist at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has shed light on the species.

Here’s everything you need to know about Asian Hornets, including what they are and what to do if you spot one in the UK.

What are Asian Hornets?

The Asian hornet is a species of hornet which is not native to the UK.

It is smaller than our native hornet, with queens measuring up to 30mm, and workers up to 25mm in length.

Professor Roy said: “They are easily recognised by their appearance and difficult to confuse with any other species.

“The thorax is a velvety black / dark brown with brown abdominal segments bordered with a fine yellow band. Only the fourth abdominal segment is almost entirely a yellowy-orange.

“The legs are brown with yellow ends and the head is black with an orange-yellow face.”

Are there Asian Hornets in the UK?

There are currently no known populations of Asian Hornets in the UK, but that could be set to change as we head toward summer.

Professor Roy said: “People should be vigilant to the arrival of this invasive non-native species all through the year but particularly during the Spring, Summer and Autumn when most insects are active.”

Over the last five years, ecologists have been increasingly worried about the potential of the Asian Hornet arriving in the UK, according to Professor Roy.

She explained: “The Asian Hornet was first reported in 2004 in France and subsequently spread rapidly.

“As a predatory insect it poses a threat to biodiversity, particularly pollinating insects including honeybees but also wild pollinators.”

Are Asian Hornets dangerous to humans?

Unless you’re allergic, thankfully Asian Hornets are not usually dangerous to humans.

Professor Roy said: “The Asian Hornet is not generally aggressive, although the stings can be painful and a very small number of people might be allergic to the sting.”

Are Asian Hornets the same as Asian Giant Hornets?

While they have very similar names, Asian Hornets are actually a different species to Asian Giant Hornets, which are often referred to as ‘Murder Hornets.’

Asian Giant Hornets are usually found in Japan, but have also been found in the US in recent weeks.

They are much more dangerous than Asian Hornets, with huge stingers able to penetrate beekeeping suits.

Speaking to Mirror Online, a DEFRA spokesperson said: “There have been no confirmed sightings of Asian giant hornets in Europe and this species must not be mistaken for the more common Asian hornet.”

What should you do if you see an Asian Hornet?

If you see an Asian Hornet or an Asian Hornet nest, it’s best to report the sighting, and not deal with the insect(s) yourself.

Professor Roy said: “We don’t recommend anyone taking direct action – instead they should report all sightings of concern rapidly here or through the Asian Hornet Watch app."

According to Professor Roy, many Brits are already using the app, helping ecologists to track the insects’ movement through the UK.

She concluded: “The response of people from across the UK so far has been amazing. There have been very few confirmed sightings of the Asian Hornet and rapid response has ensured that there are no established populations in the UK.

“We thank everyone who has contributed so far and encourage people to keep sending in their sightings of concern.”

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