Hertfordshire residents urged to be vigilant after first UK sighting of Asian hornets

PUBLISHED: 12:34 22 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:34 22 September 2016

Asian hornet

Asian hornet

Archant

An Asian hornet, which preys on honey bees, was spotted in Tetbury, Gloucestershire earlier this week, and attempts are underway to find and destroy its nests.

BPCA CEO Simon ForresterBPCA CEO Simon Forrester

The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) says confirmed sightings in the Channel Islands and now mainland Britain meant that more are likely to be found.

The hornet poses a threat to the native species of bees and is already common across Europe.

Simon Forrester, chief executive of the BPCA, said: “Professional pest controllers have been aware of the threat posed by Asian hornets, alongside other invasive species, for some time.

“The BPCA and its members form the first alert to these threats and are often called in to deal with such pests.

“The first sighting will almost certainly not be the last, but if people report them sensibly then major problems can be avoided.

“Our members will do everything they can to maintain the health of our honey bee population and can be called upon to deal sensitively with any situation that arises.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has set up a three-mile surveillance zone and issued a ‘species alert’.

Nicola Spence, Defra’s deputy director for plant and bee health, said: “We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.

“It’s important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognise the damage they can cause to honeybee colonies. That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests.”

The hornet. which is smaller than the native European hornet species and is active between April and November, is most likely to be found in southern parts of England and could also be accidentally imported among goods such as soil with pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and timber.

Sightings should be sent to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk with a photograph and local details.

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