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Biodiversity spotlight – Asian Hornet alert!

Already swarming in Europe and spotted in the British isles, so the alert is being called out to keep an eye out for this new flying predator. Only once spotted in Ireland in April 2021, believed to have hitched a lift from Europe to Ireland and shortly after died so thankfully no swarm was created.

This short Youtube video from UK centre of Ecology and Hydrology will help explain them.

The Asian hornet is a predator of honeybees, wasps, other pollinators such as bumblebees, hoverflies and spiders, which it uses primarily to feed its larvae. These prey are important for pollination of crops as well as wild flora and disruptions to their populations may have serious impacts on biodiversity and pollination services. Honeybees are its main prey with potential consequences for the honey production sector. However, the potential of the Hornet to become invasive in Ireland is dependent on its successful establishment of colonies here.

Asian hornet will also sting people but in general, the sting is no worse than a sting from any bee or wasp in Ireland. The reaction experienced by people from their sting varies – as it does with wasp or bee stings – from most commonly a mild localized hive like throbbing swelling to more rarely, a severe reaction of anaphylaxis.

How to identify them

Large hornet with a generally dark appearance with an orange face. Mistaken identity in Ireland with native species has occurred however, the following characteristics can help with identification:

  • Queen up to 3 centimetres & worker up to 2.5 centimetres long
  • Dark colour antennae
  • Long orange face
  • Entirely brown or black thorax so no stripes on the middle/thorax section.
  • Abdomen mostly black except for yellow band across the 4th segment with orangey-coloured lower segments.
  • Legs yellow at the ends
  • It has a small thin stinger that is retractable so normally not visible.

What to do if spotted in your locality

  • Become familiar with the identification features of Asian hornet.
  • Report suspected sightings in Ireland with a photograph through this online form https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives or the Biodiversity Data capture app.
  • If you are travelling to countries with established populations of Asian hornet please be mindful to check your belongings and vehicles before returning for any possible ‘hitchhiker’ species. In Europe, Asian hornet is present in many countries including France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and some of the Channel islands and is spreading rapidly. See the DAFM Don’t Risk it Campaign.
  • It is important that there should not be an over-reaction to sightings of other large insects such as wood wasps and native social wasps. It is imperative other species are not targeted, disrupted or destroyed on foot of this discovery of one Asian hornet individual.

     

Learn more here

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