Experts Warn Invasive Asian Hornet is Established in UK

( – Experts have warned that the Asian hornet is likely to have become well-established in the United Kingdom, posing a grave risk to native bees and other insects, as well as the plants that they pollinate. Professor David Goulson, a bumblebee expert based at the University of Sussex in the UK, explained that the record-breaking total of nine nests found in the UK this year has made him fearful that the invasive species has already become established. He added that he believes it to be inevitable for the Asian hornet to become endemic to the UK in time, despite the authorities’ best efforts to locate and destroy every nest in the country.

The Asian hornet, not to be confused with the Asian ‘murder’ hornet, poses no particular risk to human health as far as its sting is concerned. However, its existence does put other species of insect and the ecosystems they are a part of in grave danger. This in turn, could have disastrous impacts on agriculture. A global report has warned that this species of hornet is involved in 60% of all plant and animal extinctions currently.

The Asian hornet is recognizable for its dark brown body with either a yellow or orange ring around its abdomen, as well as yellow ends to its legs. It is approximately twice the length of the bumblebee, which it predates on. Asian hornets are known to wait outside beehives and hunt bees as they enter or leave. They dismember them and feed the thorax to their young. The Asian hornet has a large appetite and can eat as many as 50 bumblebees in a single day.

The UK public is being asked to remain vigilant and report any sightings of the Asian hornet by updating a public, interactive map created by a gardening website called WhatShed. Authorities will be able to use these reports to track down possible hornet nests and destroy them in an attempt to control and even eradicate the invasive population.

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