Islanders are being asked to keep watch for the Asian hornet, which could decimate our native honey bee population and damage fragile eco-systems after the latest confirmed sighting in Tamworth, Staffordshire on September 2.
The alien invader is causing serious problems in France and on the Island of Jersey, where 17 nests were found and destroyed in 2017 and 55 in 2018. Special protective clothing (pictured) is needed to deal with the infestations.
Beekeepers are asked to be particularly vigilant, and it would be to their own benefit as the Asian hornet is a voracious predator, biting the heads of bees off and eating them.
Anne Rowberry, of the British Bee Keeping Association said: “Now is the time for trapping and spending a little more time watching to see if hornets are hawking your hives in your apiary, put an hour aside to watch each day for hornets during Asian Hornet week (which runs until September 15) and remember to look for them on late sources of nectar like ivy.”
However, a spokesman for Buglife has warned against confusing the European hornet for its Asiatic cousins saying: “Our native hornets are quite docile and if you leave them alone they are unlikely to sting. Their nests are to be avoided though. They and other social wasps play an important part in maintaining a healthy countryside. They pollinate some plants, and they help to control crop pests, so they are really very useful creatures.”
You can e-mail photos and reports of suspected sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a Facebook page for Isle of Wight – Asian Hornet Watch.