Asian Hornets: Buzzing Invaders

Asian Hornets: Buzzing Invaders

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), also known as the yellow-legged hornet or Asian predatory wasp, is a native insect of Southeast Asia. However, it's become a cause for concern in many other parts of the world, particularly Europe, where it's considered an invasive species.

Why are they a problem?

  • Bee Predators: Asian hornets are skilled hunters and prey heavily on honeybees. This can be devastating to bee populations, which are already under threat from habitat loss and disease.
  • Aggressive Stings: While their sting isn't necessarily more potent than a native hornet, they are more likely to defend their nests aggressively and can deliver multiple stings.

Identifying Asian Hornets:

  • Smaller size: Compared to our native European hornets, Asian hornets are smaller, with worker adults measuring around 25mm and queens reaching 30mm.
  • Black and yellow: Their abdomen is primarily black with a distinctive yellow band around the fourth segment.
  • Yellow tipped legs: One of the easiest giveaways is their bright yellow leg tips, unlike the brown legs of European hornets.
  • Orange face: They have an orange head with dark compound eyes.

What to do if you see one:

  • Don't panic: While their sting can be painful, it's usually no worse than a bee sting. If you're not allergic, avoid swatting and remain calm.
  • Identification: If possible, try to take a picture of the hornet for identification purposes. This will help experts determine if it's an Asian hornet.
  • Report sightings: Report any suspected sightings to the relevant authorities in your region. In the UK, you can report sightings to the National Bee Unit

Living with Asian Hornets:

While they may be a nuisance, it's important to remember that Asian hornets are just trying to survive. If you have an Asian hornet nest on your property, it's best to call in a professional pest control service to remove it safely.

The Takeaway:

Asian hornets are a reminder of the delicate balance of our ecosystems. By learning to identify them and reporting sightings, we can help control their spread and protect our valuable bee populations.

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