Jersey and the Channel Islands value help from a vigilant public in their fight against the invasion of Asian Hornets from the continent waged over the last few years. In the UK we also need that help.
Asian Hornet Week is upon us once again from Monday 6th to Friday 10th September 2021. In the last three years, nests have been found and destroyed in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. This year, no nests have been found, due probably to reduction of boat traffic across the Channel because of Covid. Queen hornets on the Continent hide themselves in sheltered spots to hibernate. Unfortunately, this includes boats, caravans and trucks, so as the traffic resumes, we are likely to see the influx of this invasive insect increase again.
Asian Hornet Action teams from Devon’s beekeeping associations are working hard to tell the public about the Asian hornet. They are distributing posters to places like caravan parks, marinas and parish notice boards and asking people to check boats and vehicles on return from the continent. Unsuspecting travellers could be bringing hidden hornets in their vehicles, thus inadvertently releasing queen hornets that will establish new nests here in the spring.
Introduced into France in 2004, Vespa velutina, also known as the Yellow Legged Hornet, has spread steadily through neighboring countries. It has had a serious effect on agriculture. Victims of these hornets include grape pickers (stung by hornets feeding on grape juice), fruit growers (due to hornets preying on pollinating insects) and beekeepers (honey bees make easy targets for these hornets which kill them in massive numbers). Members of the public have also been stung when they have inadvertently disturbed a hornets’ nest. Whilst nests are more commonly built-in tall trees, they are sometimes found in hedges, brambles or garden shrubs, or even in banks, so they can easily be disturbed inadvertently causing large numbers of hornets to emerge at once. There have been several deaths from hornet stings.
Anyone spotting a hornet that is not our native European hornet should report it. National Bee Unit will send inspectors to investigate any confirmed sighting (supported with a photo or dead specimen) of an Asian hornet, and will locate and destroy the nest. Although it would be risky to approach a nest, a lone insect does not tend to be aggressive, and while it is feeding it may be possible to get a clear photo.
You can ask for assistance to get a photo by calling a local beekeeper to put out bait to attract hornets to feed:
https://www.bbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-action-team-map will help you find a local beekeeper.
A report can be sent on the asian hornet app:
Or by email:
In August and September hornets' numbers are highest building up their colonies to produce queens to start up more nests next spring. This is when we urgently need to alert the National Bee Unit team to find and destroy any nests BEFORE the queens can mate and then disperse to hibernate. Our best chance of doing this is through members of the public being vigilant and looking out for these hornets, in order to report them.
If you wish to participate, put out a wasp trap or bait dish with a kitchen towel laced with a sweet liquid bait for the week and inspect regularly. If there are Asian hornets about, they will come to your bait dish and will quite obviously be different from the usual wasps we get at this time of year.