Asian Hornets

News story

Asian hornet: UK sightings

Asian Hornet found in Folkestone
See the latest updates on Asian Hornet sightings in the UK  see all updates at –

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.

Current situation

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

Asian hornets:

  • 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: 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 ;

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


Restrictions on the use of Metaldehyde to protect wildlife

Following advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), DEFRA has announced a ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde, a pesticide used to control slugs in a range of crops and in gardens, from Spring 2020 due to its unacceptable risk to birds and mammals.

DEFRA suggests that alternatives be considered, such as ferric phosphate, which is approved for use by organic gardeners and does not carry similar risks.

Ongoing research and trials indicate that ferrous phosphate is just as effective as metaldehyde, but it works in a different way. Metaldehyde causes slugs to dehydrate and die leaving their chemically contaminated bodies on the surface where birds and mammals have open access to them. Ferrous phosphate stops a slug from eating, so it returns to its hiding place or underground where it dies.

Ferrous phosphate pellets are currently a little more expensive than metaldehyde, but if applied using manufactures recommendations, the difference in price for most domestic gardeners should be negligible.

The sale and distribution of metaldehyde slug pellets will end on 30 June 2019 and the disposal, storage and use of existing stocks will end on 30 June 2020.

If you wish to safely dispose of your metaldehyde pellets (or any other chemicals and/or containers) then take them to your local recycling centre. All local councils are equipped with facilities for residents to dispose of hazardous waste at such facilities.