05/06/2023 by Matthew Greenhalgh 0 Comments
Beware the European Hornets: A Misidentification Epidemic!
As the warm weather approaches, so too does the buzzing of insects. Among the myriad of flying creatures, hornets often evoke fear and caution.
As the warm weather approaches, so too does the buzzing of insects. Among the myriad of flying creatures, hornets often evoke fear and caution. However, it's crucial to dispel a common misconception that has been causing unnecessary panic. The chances are exceedingly high that the hornets you encounter this year—upwards of 99.9%—will be European Hornets rather than their notorious Asian counterparts. Let's delve into this fascinating topic and explore why European Hornets are the primary species you're likely to encounter.
- European Hornets (Vespa crabro) are native to Europe, including the United Kingdom.
- They have long inhabited the region and are well-established residents.
- Asian Hornets (Vespa velutina) are originally from Southeast Asia and only arrived in Europe relatively recently, gaining attention for their aggressive nature and potential impact on local ecosystems.
Appearance and Size
- European Hornets are larger, with queens measuring around 30mm in length, while workers are typically 25mm long.
- They exhibit a brownish colouration, often with yellow markings on their abdomens.
- Asian Hornets are noticeably smaller, with queens measuring around 25mm and workers about 20mm in length.
- They feature a predominantly black body with a yellow-orange face.
- European Hornets typically build their nests in hollow trees, attics, or wall cavities.
- They are known for constructing large paper-like nests that can house hundreds of individuals.
- Asian Hornets, on the other hand, prefer to build their nests in elevated locations, such as high tree branches or human-made structures like buildings or utility poles.
- European Hornets primarily feed on insects and nectar, playing an essential role in pollination.
- They can be seen in gardens, orchards, and other areas where flowers and vegetation are abundant.
- Asian Hornets have a more carnivorous diet, actively preying on honeybees and other pollinators, making them a concern for beekeepers and ecological balance.
Impact on Local Ecosystems
- While European Hornets are an integral part of the ecosystem and their presence is relatively benign, Asian Hornets can pose a threat to native honeybee populations.
- They have been observed raiding beehives, decimating colonies, and negatively impacting local pollination processes.
- Monitoring and management efforts are necessary to mitigate the potential ecological consequences of Asian Hornets' presence.
- It is essential to note that Asian Hornets sightings should not be ignored or taken lightly, as prompt reporting is crucial to facilitate appropriate pest control measures.
- However, the vast majority of hornets encountered in the Forest of Dean and the United Kingdom, in general, are the native European Hornets.
- Understanding the differences between these two species can help dispel unnecessary fear and focus on appropriate pest management strategies.
It is important to be able to identify the difference between European and Asian Hornets.
European Hornets are not typically aggressive and pose little threat to humans.
Asian Hornets can be aggressive and should be avoided.
If you see an Asian Hornet, please report it to your local authorities.
Watch the video around Asian Hornets here