The first known sighting of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) in Guernsey was in March 2017. Asian hornets have spread through Europe after arriving in Southern France in a consignment of pottery in 2004.
The Asian hornet is an aggressive predator of many types of insect but on average 30% of its diet is made up of honeybees. The Asian hornet is therefore a major threat to our biodiversity, pollinating insects, and beekeeping activities. The States of Guernsey is encouraging anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian hornet or found an Asian hornet nest to report it to Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services (ACLMS): firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do Asian hornets look like?
Asian hornets have a distinctive velvety black/dark brown thorax. The abdomen is also black/brown with the abdominal segments bordered with a fine yellow band, only the fourth abdominal segment is almost entirely a yellow-orange. The legs are black/brown with yellow ends and the head is black with an orange-yellow face. A typical worker hornet is approximately 22mm (1 inch) in length. For more information please see the "Asian hornet ID" sheet published by the French National History Museum available to download to the right or bottom of this page, which also provides details of similar species which are often mistaken for Asian hornet and photographs of an Asian hornet nest.
There is further information about the biology and life cycle of the Asian hornet on the National Bee Unit website: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=208.
Are Asian hornets dangerous?
As with bees and wasps, the Asian hornet has a painful sting. The sting of an Asian hornet is no more harmful than that of a bee or wasp although if a person is allergic to bee or wasp stings they are also likely to react to the sting of an Asian hornet. However Asian hornets may act more aggressively than most other indigenous bee and wasp species if their nest is threatened so it is important not to deliberately provoke them. When foraging for food away from the nest the Asian hornet is no more aggressive than a normal wasp.
What do I do if I think I've seen an Asian hornet?
Anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian hornet is asked to photograph the insect if possible, note the location and watch it long enough to determine the direction of travel as this may be helpful in locating a nest. ACLMS is mapping Asian hornet sightings to help in the search for nest sites, so providing an accurate location with your sighting is very helpful. Nests are most commonly found high up in trees, although may also be found attached to or in buildings. Please report the location of any insect or nest found to ACLMS (tel: 234567, or email email@example.com). Sightings can also be submitted through the Asian Hornet Watch app, which can be downloaded for free from the both the Apple (https://appsto.re/gb/DKXnfb.i) and Google (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.ac.ceh.hornets&hl=en) app stores - search for 'Asian Hornet Watch'. The app also shows how to identify the Asian hornet from other similar looking species and photos can be uploaded directly from a mobile device. Your sighting will be forwarded to ACLMS automatically.
It is not urgent that a nest is destroyed immediately, but it must remain undisturbed whilst plans are made by the States of Guernsey for the safest way for it to be destroyed by a nominated pest controller. Confirmed sightings will be vital to help us find nests and eradicate the Asian Hornet from Guernsey.
Please note this is not to be confused with the Mandarin or Giant Asian hornet (Vespa mandarinia) which is very much larger and is found in China. It has not been found in the UK or Europe.
The Asian Hornet Strategy aims to keep the population of Asian hornets as low as possible. The first step is a comprehensive island wide programme to trap queen Asian hornets as they emerge from hibernation in the spring - so called the "Spring Queening" project. Trapping these queens before they have the opportunity to raise their young and build huge nests will be the main priority. A large nest can hold 5,000 hornets which will cause significant harm to our native insect populations, and could pose a public health risk if the nest were to be accidentally disturbed. Householders and landowners will be asked to volunteer to put up and monitor a trap on their land. The same systematic method of trapping will be rolled out accross Alderney, Herm and Sark. For more information please contact the Asian Hornet Team on tel: 234567, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.