As you read this, chances are the headlines will have already started. The first Asian Hornet has arrived in the UK and there are legitimate and not-so-legitimate reasons to be concerned about that.
Let’s start with the ‘not-so-legitimate’. That’s where The Daily Mail and The Daily Express will likely go this morning. It’s an ‘invasion’ of foreign immigrants that has come via Europe, and threatens indigenous populations. In other words, they can make a Brexit analogy. The words ‘killer’ and ‘deadly’ will likely feature, even though it’s no worse than our domestic bees.
But there is a real element to the concern, and that’s that this species eats honeybees.
Our honeybees are in trouble enough, what with the government being obsessed with letting companies continue to use damaging pesticides. So a potentially lethal predator arriving isn’t good news.
Fortunately DEFRA have been expecting this for a while, and have responded pretty swiftly. But the chances are, with the hornet now established in parts of Europe, this will be a continued problem.
In the North it’s less of a concern as the temperatures will kill off any over-wintering hornets. But in the South it’s realistic that they could establish and breed. So people do need to keep an eye out, and notify DEFRA if they think they’ve seen one.
There’s an ID guide here: