Asian hornet: UK sightings
The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is a species of hornet which is not native to the UK. It is smaller than our native hornet and single hornets pose no greater risk to human health than other hornets or bees.
However, they do pose a risk to honey bees and pollinating insects. This is why we are keen to stop this insect establishing in the UK, and why you should report suspected sightings.
There have also been reports in other countries of Asian hornets becoming aggressive when their nests are disturbed. If you find a nest, don’t try to remove it yourself – it can be dangerous and should only be done by experts.
When a sighting is confirmed, experts from the National Bee Unit (NBU) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will work quickly to find and destroy any active nests in the area.
The latest case of Asian hornet was confirmed near Christchurch, Dorset on 1 October 2019. Two nests have subsequently been destroyed. This follows earlier confirmed sightings south west of Ashford in Kent on 9 September 2019 and the Tamworth area of Staffordshire on 2 September 2019, where a nest was subsequently located and destroyed. Earlier in the year a single hornet was confirmed in New Milton, Hampshire. In all cases the hornets were spotted and reported by a member of the public.
Since 2016, there have been a total of 17 confirmed sightings of the Asian hornet in England and nine nests have been destroyed.
How to spot an Asian hornet
- have a dark brown or black velvety body
- have a yellow or orange band on fourth segment of abdomen
- have yellow tipped legs
- are smaller than the native European hornet
- are not active at night
How to report an Asian hornet
If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report this using the ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app:
You can also report sightings by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include information on location, date and number of Asian hornets you have seen. Please also include a photo if you can to help our experts identify the insect.
Alternatively, you can fill out an online report form ; brc.ac.uk/risk/alert.php
If you find a nest, don’t try to remove it yourself – it can be dangerous and should only be done by experts.
What to do if you keep bees
If you keep bees, you should:
Read our guidance on the Asian Hornet
- Asian hornet information pages of BeeBase
- Asian hornet ID sheet
- Asian hornet poster
- ‘How to obtain a sample’ guidance