The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire in September 2016 – the first time the hornet has been discovered in the UK.
The places it is most likely to be found are in southern parts of England or goods among which it could be accidentally imported (such as soil with imported pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and timber).
Active months between April and November (peak August/September). Inactive over the winter.
The Great British Non-native Species Website, affiliated with Defra, has issued a 'species alert'.
It said: "Vespa velutina, also known as the Asian hornet is an invasive non-native species from Asia. It arrived in France in 2004 where it spread rapidly. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, and potentially other native species.
The National Bee Unit is asking members of the public to report any sightings to them and take pictures as evidence.
Sightings should be sent with a photograph and location details to firstname.lastname@example.org
What should I do if I come across an Asian Hornet?
Stay away from their nests to avoid group attack, they do not generally sting without provocation.
Don't run.They can fly faster than you can run and are intrigued by moving targets and consider running a provocation. Crouch low to the ground, stop moving and try to cover your head.
Giant hornets are excited by bright colours so wear brown or black.
They are drawn to perfume and aftershave.
They're also agitated by the smell of alcohol.
Do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets' nest
The cost of eradication on private land will be met by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, who can be contacted through Defra on the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. The Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm. There is an out of hours facility on the same number for reporting suspicion of disease in animals. You can also email email@example.com.
This is the Asian Hornet that was found in Gloucestershire
What does it look like?
Distinctive hornet, smaller than our native European Hornet species. A key feature is the almost entirely dark abdomen, except for the 4th segment which is yellow.
Bright yellow tips to legs (native hornet dark)
Entirely brown or black thorax (native hornet more orange)
Workers can be up to 25mm in length.
Makes very large nests
Most likely to be confused with European Hornet. Less likely to be confused with queen Median Wasp.
Main difference between European Hornet and Asian Hornet is the latter is slightly smaller, has characteristic yellow legs, a dark velvety thorax and a dark abdomen with a distinctive yellow band on the fourth segment.