Asian hornets: Be vigilant ahead of peak season

The UK’s chief plant health officer is urging people to report sightings of Asian hornets as we head into the peak summer season.

asian hornet
Image © Gilles San Martin/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

Asian hornets pose a risk to honey bees and insect pollinators, though the risk to human health is no greater than our native wasps and hornets. 

UK beekeepers and members of the public are being asked to be vigilant and report sightings.

Identifying Asian hornets

Asian hornets are distinctive, with a very dark body, wide orange stripe on the fourth abdomen section and yellow leg ends. 

They are much larger than our native hornets, but smaller than European hornets. 

The average for Asian hornet workers is 25mm compared to 30mm for the European hornet. 

Any sightings can be made via the Asian Hornet Watch App.

Record sightings 

In 2023 there were a record number of Asian hornet reports in the UK, the majority in Kent.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Bee Unit destroyed 72 nests in 56 locations. 

The unit continues to take action to eradicate the Asian hornet in the UK, and this spring rolled out trapping in areas where there was an increased risk of queens overwintering.

The traps, which allow non-target invertebrates to escape, have been set at locations across Kent, East Sussex, Devon and North Yorkshire. 

Swift action

Asian hornets are not yet established in the UK. Early trapping is a key part of surveillance and eradication efforts. 

Defra’s chief plant and bee health officer Nicola Spence said:

“By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, the public can help us take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets. 

“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, they can damage honey bee colonies and harm other pollinators. 

“Please continue to be vigilant for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”

How to report sightings 

If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report it using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by using Defra’s online report form

Alternatively, email 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 sightings page and on BeeBase.

It is important not to approach or disturb a nest. Asian hornets are not generally aggressive towards people but may be when they perceive a threat to their nest.

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