Prevent the spread of invasive, non-native plants and insects.

Vespa velutina, Asian Hornet

What is it?

    • Asian hornets were first recorded in the UK in 2016
    • Queens are up to 3cm (1.2in) in length, while workers are up to 2.5cm (1in)
    • The hornets have a dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band
    • They nest openly in trees and hedges, unlike European hornets which often nest in cavities
    • They hover near hives to snatch worker bees, mascerate them into a pellet and take them back to their colony
  • Their sting is no more potent than the European hornet’s
  • Chief plant health officer, Nicola Spence: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.”Source: National Bee Unit / University of Exeter/ Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Have you seen this insect


Vespa velutina

An invasive non-native hornet originally from Asia. Suspected records should be reported immediately. A highly aggressive predator of native insects, posing a significant threat to honey bees and other pollinators. Accidentally introduced to France in 2004 where it spread rapidly. A number of sightings have been recorded in the UK since 2016.

Workers up to 25mm in length

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Entirely dark thorax

Dark abdomen


Yellow tips to legs

Where might I see it?

Most likely to be seen close to bee hives – bee keepers should be alert. Active from February to November in suburban areas in the south of England and Wales, or around major ports.

What does it look like?

Distinctive hornet, smaller than our native species. A key feature is the almost entirely dark abdomen, except for the 4th segment which is yellow.

➤ Slightly smaller than native hornet
➤ Dark abdomen, 4th segment yellow
➤ Bright yellow tips to legs (native hornet dark)
➤ Entirely brown or black thorax (native hornet more orange)

➤ Makes very large nests

Asian Hornet abdomen

Native Hornet abdomen

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