Asian hornet – don’t panic

My friend and colleague Matthew Oates recently circulated the following note about Asian Hornets – I thought I would reproduce it in full here.

Vespa_velutina_0001
Asian Hornet
By Danel Solabarrieta  via Wikimedia Commons

“There was a piece on the One Show last Friday about the Asian Hornet Vespa velutina, a small hornet which is likely to colonise the UK in the near future (via accidental importation, rather than as a migrant).  The piece suggests that Asian Hornet will be a major threat to bee keeping, as the workers take bees in flight – but note that hornets of all species habitually take bees (and wasps, hoverflies, butterflies etc)…

Here’s the link  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03463tw

Asian Hornet poses no threat to humans – unless you disturb a nest, which are usually in trees but can be in sheds, garages etc.  Hornets are not attracted to jam, cream, scones, cake etc., NT tea gardens, or people.  They don’t like wasps, which are probably the honey bee’s number one enemy – and may do more good than harm to honeybees as a result.

Experts within BWARS (the Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Scheme) feel strongly that the Asian Hornet is unlikely to pose a major threat to honey bees here, or to any other element of our wildlife.  Neonicotinoids pose a far greater threat to bees and other pollinating insects.

Nonetheless, when Asian Hornet arrives there will be an almighty panic, as Defra – primed by bee keepers and pest control companies – will spring into action.  Certainly, knocking out colonies at an early stage may delay the insect’s establishment here for a while.  Eventually, we will learn to live with the Asian Hornet.

BWARS have had to deal with over 400 misidentifications of Asian Hornets!

Here’s the page on the BWARS website  http://www.bwars.com/sites/www.bwars.com/files/info_sheets/Vespa_velutina_infosheet.pdf

My message is: Be aware (no pun intended) but don’t panic!”

Matthew Oates
Wildlife Specialist
The National Trust

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