Asian hornets spotted across Britain – and here’s what to do if you see one
Brits are being urged to stop an invasion of Asian hornets by filling out an interactive map to track the insects.
Experts want people to record any potential sightings of the species to they can mark down their locations across the nation.
The hornets – which have the scientific name Vespa velutina – are no more deadly to humans than a bee sting.
And they should not be confused with the ‘murder hornet’, which can be fatal to people, but isn’t found in Britain.
Asian hornets are harmful to the nation’s bee population, and can eat up to 50 honey bees a day.
It is thought that the damage caused by the species costs Britain up to £7.6 million every year, with colonies and crops destroyed.
Gardening site whatshed.co.uk had now launched the interactive map, which already shows all confirmed sightings.
It says the Asian hornet arrived in Europe in 2004, before the first confirmed sighting in Britain in 2016.
Kate Fromings, from whatshed.co.uk, said: “The spread of Asian hornets is not something that should be taken lightly.
“Swarms can decimate a colony of honey bees in a matter of minutes, putting our crops and farms at risk if they are able to invade the UK successfully.
“Uploading sightings to this map will ensure that the necessary authorities can be contacted to confirm the sighting and handle the case properly, whilst also enabling scientists to carry out important research into the movements of this species.”
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), there have been 19 confirmed sightings of Asian hornets in England since 2016.
This figure includes a total of 10 nests, all of which were destroyed.
The GB Non-Native Species Secretariat says that vigilance is particularly required in southern parts of England and Wales and around major ports.
It added that the the Asian hornet is active mainly between April and November (peak August/September) and is inactive over the winter.
“Do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest,” said its website.
Asian hornets looks like an unusually large wasp, with a dark brown or black velvety body, yellow-tipped legs and a yellow band on its abdomen.
‘Murder hornets’ – the Asian giant hornet – have been spotted in the US.
But a spokesperson for Defra warned the two species must not be confused, with the more common hornet posing little threat to humans.