Asian HORNETS Take Over the UK!

Sightings of Asian hornets were reported in the UK last year, prompting the island nation’s experts to urge vigilance on the part of the public.

Britain’s National Bee Unit has stated that, in 2023, it destroyed over 70 nests at 56 separate locations. Most of the nests were discovered in Kent. Kent in particular, and the whole of the southeast of England in general, is the front-line of the battle against these foreign invaders.

The invasive Asian hornet poses an environmental threat to the United Kingdom, as they push out other insect pollinators—including honey bees—from their natural ecological niche.

The Asian hornets, according to Defra (the UK Department for Environmental, Food, and Rural Affairs), are not yet established in the UK. Early trapping of the pests are essential to eradication efforts.

According to government records, residents have reported sighting the Asian hornets 108 times since 2016, with 56 of those reports being coming in 2023 alone. So far this year, eight sightings have been reported. The British Beekeepers Association confirmed, in March, that an Asian hornet had been found in a potting shed near Sandwich, in Ash. This discovery, according to the Association, was about five miles from a nesting site near Canturbury, which was found and destroyed in 2023. Another hornet sighting, this one near Folkestone, was reported in April.

Asian hornets are characterized by dark—nearly black—bodies with their fourth abdomen section featuring a wide orange stripe. Their legs end in yellow feet. An app, available for mobile devices, has been deployed to assist in submitting reports of sightings of the pests.

This year’s El Nino climactic conditions have increased flooding and warmed temperatures across the UK, and the Wildlife and Countryside Link has warned that these conditions make it more likely that the “problem species” will see a lot of population growth and range spread this year. The Japanese knotweed, and other invasive subtropical species, are also poised to see a boom this year.