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Increased Asian hornet vigilance urged after record numbers found

by | 22 May 24 | Nature & Biodiversity, News | 0 comments

Asian hornet

People are being urged to be extra vigilant for Asian hornets this summer after a record number were found in the UK last year.

Seventy-two nests were located and destroyed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Bee Unit in 2023, the majority of which were in Kent.

The UK’s chief plant health officer is encouraging beekeepers and the public to report any sightings in what will be the peak season for the pest.

“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,” says Professor Nicola Spence.

The National Bee Unit has rolled out trapping across Kent, East Sussex, Devon and North Yorkshire, in locations where there was an increased risk that Asian hornet queens may have overwintered. Defra says early trapping such as this is key to eradicating the invasive species before it becomes established in the UK.

Smaller than the UK’s native hornet, the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health, but Spence says they can damage honey bee colonies and harm other pollinators.

They can be identified by their very dark body, wide orange stripe on the fourth abdomen section and yellow leg ends. Sightings can be reported through the Asian Hornet Watch app or online, though people are urged to take care and not approach or disturb a nest.

Defra and APHA are also hosting an interactive exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week to raise awareness of the Asian hornet and the risk it poses to honey bees and wild pollinators.

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