The Public is being asked to be vigilant after sightings of Asian hornets, an invasive species, are confirmed in Kent
Beekeepers and members of the public are today (Wednesday 19 July) being asked to remain vigilant after Asian hornets were spotted in the Dover area in Kent.
The National Bee Unit has confirmed the sighting and monitoring is underway to detect further Asian hornets in the vicinity.
The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than our native wasps and hornets. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees and work is already underway to monitor for any hornet activity and to identify any nests nearby.
There have already been several sightings of Asian hornets this year with this being the sixth confirmed UK sighting since April 2023, when a single Asian hornet was captured near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland.
Defra’s Chief Plant and Bee Health Officer Nicola Spence said:
“By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets. That’s why we are working at speed to locate and investigate any nests in the area following the confirmed sightings in Kent.
“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, they can cause damage to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.
“Please continue to look out for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online. Asian hornet nests will be smaller at this time in the year but we are still asking people to be vigilant.”
It is important to take care not to approach or disturb a nest. Asian hornets are not generally aggressive towards people but an exception to this is when they perceive a threat to their nest.
If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report this using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by using our online report form. Alternatively, e-mail email@example.com. Please include a photograph if you can safely obtain one.
Identification guides and more information are available and if you keep bees you should keep up to date with the latest situation on the gov.uk sightings page and on BeeBase.
The cost of eradication on private land will be met by APHA.
The Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat is a joint venture between Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government to tackle the threat of invasive species. More information can be found on their website.
For details on the appearance of an Asian hornet, please refer to the BeeBase guide or the non-native species identification guide.
Photographs of the Asian hornet are available on our Flickr account.
The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is not to be confused with the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) which has been found in North America.