The non-native Asian predatory wasp, Vespa velutina (also known as the Asian hornet), is an invasive species from Asia. Preying on insects, including honey bees and other pollinators, it is a significant threat to bee colonies, and other native species in the UK.
In September 2016, the National Bee Unit confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire - this is the first time the hornet has been discovered in the UK.
The hornet can be accidentally imported through goods such as timber, soil, fruit, potted plants, cut flowers, though it is most likely to found in the southern parts of England as it cannot survive the colder climates in the north of the UK. Its active months are between April and November, though they're most active in August/September.
The hornet can be easily be mistaken for a few (harmless and important!) UK species - especially the European hornet (Vespa crabro), the hornet moth (Sesia apiformis) and the hornet mimic hoverfly (Volucella zonaria). Below are comparison images to help you distinguish between the species.
Do not disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest.
European hornet (Vespa crabro)
Asian predatory wasp /Asian hornet (Vespa velutina)
© Didier Descouens
Hornet moth (Sesia apiformis)
Hornet mimic hoverfly (Volucella zonaria)
Sightings of the Asian Hornet should be sent with a photograph and location details to
You can find more information about this species alert on the NNSS website
Asian Hornet resources:
Alert Poster for Vespa velutina (Asian Hornet)
Risk assessment for Vespa velutina (Asian Hornet)
Identification Sheet for Vespa velutina (Asian Hornet)
Information sheet for Vespa veultina (Asian Hornet)
Guidance for bee keepers: can be found on BeeBase.