British gardens have a new and unwelcome visitor as an Asian hornet has been spotted for the first time in Gloucestershire.
New Garden Pests
The sighting prompted a search for its nest across a three-mile surveillance zone. A large nest was subsequently found at the top of a conifer tree and destroyed.
The insects are up to 3cm in length, with entirely dark-brown bodies with the last abdominal segment almost entirely yellow. They also have yellow legs. Asian hornets are no more harmful to humans than ordinary hornets, but are capable of wiping out honeybee colonies, already under threat from disease and habitat loss.
The insect found in Gloucestershire is now undergoing DNA testing at the National Bee Unit in North Yorkshire to help establish how it arrived in the UK.
The Asian hornet arrived in France in 2004 and is now common across large areas of Europe. It was discovered for the first time in Jersey and Alderney, in the Channel Islands, this summer.
‘We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well- established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread,’ said Nicola Spence, the government’s Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health.