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The 'Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, is an invasive non-native species from Asia. If you find one you must report it (details below). It arrived in France in 2004, has spread rapidly and has now taken hold in the Channel islands. Although there have been sightings and nests found in the UK, (first sighted in Tetbury in 2016) they have been fairly rare to date (nearly 80 hives found in 2023) and we should all remain vigilant as this number will probably rise over the next few years.

Due to its appearance it is also known as the ‘yellow-legged hornet’

As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other pollinators, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies and other native species. It is most likely to be found in southern parts of England as it may be able to cross the channel from France. It may also be brought in accidentally in imported goods, such as pot plants, cut flowers, fruit or timber, which is how it arrived in France. 


What to look out for:

  • Asian hornet is a day flying insect which, unlike the European hornet, ceases activity at dusk 

  • Queens are up to 3 cm in length; workers up to 25 mm and this slightly smaller than the native European hornet, Vespa crabro

  • Its characteristic yellow legs have led to it also being known as the yellow-legged hornets

  • It has a black head with an orange face and reddish compound eyes

  • Entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band

  • Only one yellow/orange band on the 4th abdominal segment

  • Head black with an orange-yellow face

  • Asian hornets are active towards the end of March to November and reach their peak in August and September.


It is important to be able to tell the difference between the Asian hornet and the native European hornet.


Report sightings of this invasive species:

for more information from the British Beekeepers Association please click here.

To view a video of the Asian Hornet at work, click here


Information poster

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