The Asian hornet is native to South-East Asia and was probably introduced by accident through imported goods from China. Since its first recording in France in 2005, it has spread rapidly into Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
The Asian hornet is a highly effective predator of honeybees, wasps and other important pollinators, such as hoverflies. The huge size of its colonies (consisting of up to 10,000 individuals per season) means that they can rapidly decimate entire beehives. Observations in France noted losses of 14,000 honeybees per hive per month. Due to its aggressive nature and feeding habits, it could have a serious impact on native insect biodiversity and on pollination services in general.
Given that queen hornets are highly mobile and very adaptable, there is a strong risk that the species will be able to spread rapidly across the landscape, causing significant economic and ecological damage. EU-level action seeks to prevent this spread by inter alia rapidly destroying its nests. In addition, where the species has become widely spread, appropriate management measures have to be taken.
Primary nests can be found in the spring: they are the first nests formed by the queens and contain few individuals.
Below, some Images of 'primary' Asian Hornet nests taken in Italy;
They are large open-air nests in open and inaccessible places, sometimes at remarkable heights (5-20 meters), for example on top of the trees, so it may be difficult to locate them by foliage in the summer.
Very irregular (piriforme) spherical shape can have 60-90 cm in height and 40-70 cm in diameter; The entry of the wasps is lateral . Inside, there are 6-7 layers of cells hosting a total population of 6,000 individuals (with peaks greater than 12,000).
Below, some Images of secondary Asian Hornet nests taken in Italy;
If you are resident in Northern Ireland you can record any suspected sightings on;
- The Asian Hornet Watch app - the app is available to download from the Apple and Android app stores
- the CEDaR online recording form
- at iRecord
- Or call the Alien Invasive Species Team at the Northern Ireland Environment Agency - Tel: 028 9056 9629
If you are resident in Ireland you can record your suspected sightings on;
- The National Biodiversity Data Centre online submission form