The yellow-legged Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, also known simply as the Asian hornet, is an invasive species from Asia and first arrived in Europe in 2004. It has spread into Spain, including the Island of Majorca, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Germany Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the UK. Asian hornets are principally predators of insects, particularly pollinating insects, including honey bees. The fear is that hornet populations will have potentially serious consequences and impact on insect diversity in countries where it is now established.
The Asian hornet can be distinguished easily from our native hornet so it is important to learn the differences between the two. The first obvious differential feature is the abdominal colouration.
The Asian hornet is mostly black with a yellow/orange band towards the end of the body The extremities of the legs are yellow and it has an orange face. Sometimes, there can be a bit of variation in the colouring on the main part of the abdomen but as a rule of thumb, this is very reliable.
However, the European hornet resembles a large wasp and has a yellow and black striped abdomen, with some brown variation. It also has a brown thorax, which is the body part between the head and the lower body and holds the wings and brown legs. The face is yellow and brown and it is also the larger of the two hornets.
Where to report suspect sightings
If you ever suspect that you have caught or seen an Asian hornet there are several routes you can use to report your sighting. Even if you are in any doubt you should report any suspect sighting anyway. The avenues in which to report your sightings are as follows:
The online form
The online recording form can be found at http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet
‘Asian hornet watch’ app and email
For those who want to submit a suspect hornet sighting with their smart phone or tablet, we have developed a smartphone app for Androids and iOS. The app also uses GPS which allows the user to submit the exact location of their finding, allowing any confirmed sightings to be followed up quickly and efficiently.
Alternatively, you can submit your sighting by email. When doing so, please include as much information as possible, including where you saw the sighting, name, contact number/ address and if possible an image. Send your sightings to:
All records received are reviewed by entomologists at Centre of Ecology and Hydrology and credible records passed on to Animal and Plant Health Agency, at the National Bee Unit and the GB Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) for further investigation.
Resources and alert material
There is a wealth of useful material on BeeBase and the NNSS website to help you identify whether you have spotted or trapped an Asian hornet. This includes alert posters, ID sheets and further information on how to submit your sighting. Go to either:
If you would like to know anything more about the Asian hornet then do not hesitate to contact us by email or phone:
Phone: 0300 3030094
We would be happy to provide you with ID sheets and posters which you can then post in your local shops or garden centres.