What to do if you see an Asian hornet as UK issued health alert

Asian hornet
Brits being warned of Asian hornets in new health alert -Credit:Getty

The government is urging the British public to watch out for Asian hornets this summer and to report any sightings immediately. In an alert sent out today (May 20), UK’s Chief Plant Health Officer Professor Nicola Spence is calling for UK residents - including beekeepers - to be increasingly vigilant as the peak summer season arrives.

Although Asian hornets do not pose any greater threat to humans than native wasps and hornets, they pose a danger to honey bees and insect pollinators. A single Asian hornet is said to be capable of tracking down and devouring as many as 50 honeybees in a day.

Asian hornets have not yet made a home in the UK. So setting up traps early is crucial for keeping an eye on these invasive insects and essential for getting rid of them.

What do Asian hornets look like?

Asian hornets are distinct in appearance. They have a dark body, a broad orange stripe on the fourth section of their abdomen and yellow tips on their legs.

Identification guides and more information are available and if you keep bees you should keep up to date with the latest situation on the gov.uk sightings page and on BeeBase.

What should I do if I see one?

If you come across an Asian Hornet or its nest, make sure to report it right away. It's important to report any sightings so that experts can swiftly and effectively deal with the situation and eliminate Asian Hornets.

While Asian hornets typically aren't hostile towards humans, they may become aggressive if they feel their nest is in danger. Make sure to avoid getting too close to or disrupting a nest.

How can I report them?

If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report this using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by using our online report form. Alternatively, e-mail alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Please include a photograph if you can safely obtain one.

Nicola Spence added: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, the public can help us take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets. While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, they can damage honey bee colonies and harm other pollinators.

“Please continue to be vigilant for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”