Over the last two years there have been many scaremongering articles written about this insect and its imminent arrival in the UK. Most of these surrounding the insect's size, aggressive nature and potential danger to people. There have been a number of deaths in France, caused by anaphylactic shock.
Let us consider some distinguishing features. The Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) is smaller than the European hornet at 25mm (Queens are 30mm) compared with 35mm for Vespa crabo (European hornet). I have seen it mentioned that the Asian hornet is 50mm long with a 75mm wingspan. This is not the case. Other features of the Asian hornet include a completely dark thorax, yellow tipped legs and a much darker abdomen, except for the fourth segment which is yellow. Our European hornet has a mainly yellow and black abdomen and brown legs with a more yellow looking head.
The Asian hornet is more docile than our European hornet, when they sting the sensation is akin to a wasp or bee sting. Both types of hornet, when perceiving a threat to their nest, will coordinate their defence on the attacker. So ideally keep your distance, unless you are well protected.
Our European hornet has successfully colonised large areas of the UK, the south east and as far north as Nottinghamshire. The Asian hornet is found throughout France and Europe. It is only a matter of time before a stowaway or airborne insect makes the journey across the channel to arrive in Kent or Sussex to establish their first base. They are extremely strong fliers. We are awaiting this insect's arrival. It is not a case of if but when, it will be turning up sometime soon.
For pest controllers the rules of engagement should include treating a nest with Ficam D. Common nest sites for the Asian hornet will be off branches high up in trees, 15m high and close to water.
One concern relating to the insects arrival is the threat to honey bees, the Asian hornet preys on honey bees and other pollen gathering insects, stalking them and waiting for workers returning to a hive where they are killed and taken away to their nest. Bee keepers should be vigilant; they may well be the first to spot this new insect building a nest. The new colony should be destroyed immediately before it can get established, not be allowed to be left for a full season, when there will be a new batch of fertilised Queens ready to hibernate over winter, to start the life-cycle over again in the spring. If this is the case, they will be here to stay.
For any assistance of free advice about stinging bugs or flying insects, call Pest Purge for immediate support and eradication, 01622 842481.