People urged to alert DEFRA to Asian hornet after Ascot sighting

People urged to alert DEFRA to Asian hornet sightings after one is spotted in Ascot

Beekeepers and members of the public have been urged to 'remain vigilant' after an Asian hornet was spotted in Ascot.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) wants to be alerted to any possible sightings in Berkshire so it can take 'swift and effective action'.

The Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than wasps and hornets however they do pose a risk to honey bees.

Work is already underway to monitor for any hornet activity and to identify any nests nearby.

The National Bee Unit has confirmed the sighting and monitoring is underway to detect any other Asian hornets in the vicinity. 

This is the first UK sighting since September 2020 when one Asian hornet nest, which is slightly smaller than our native hornet, was identified and destroyed near Gosport, Hampshire.

Defra’s chief plant and bee health officer Nicola Spence said: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets. That’s why we are working at speed to locate and investigate any nests in the area following this confirmed sighting.

“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.

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

"It is important to take care not to approach or disturb a nest. Asian hornets are not generally aggressive towards people but an exception to this is when they perceive a threat to their nest."

Any sightings can be reported using the app Asian Hornet Watch or online using a report form. Alternatively email  alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk with a photograph if you are able to safely obtain one. 

An identification guide can be found here. 

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