The UK government have confirmed that the invasive Asian hornet has been sighted several times in 2024, including 3 times in the past week.

This is a significant increase from the previous 5 sightings in 2024.

The Asian hornet arrived in France in 2004 where it spread rapidly. Several sightings have been recorded in the UK since 2016.

In 2023, Asian hornet stings led to the deaths of at least five people in France.

It is a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, which can cause significant losses to bee colonies, and potentially other native species. 

The UK government said: "It is important to report any suspected sightings of this species as soon as possible. Vigilance is particularly required in southern parts of England and Wales and around major ports."

What is an Asian Hornet and what does it look like?

The yellow-legged hornet is non-native to the UK and is actually from South East Asia.

Also known as the Asian Predatory Wasp, the insect can consume 50 honey bees a day, with a swarm of insects capable of killing a hive of 30,000.

You are most likely to see it near bee hives and tends to be sighted in the south of England between February and November. 

The hornet has distinctive yellow legs, a velvet brown or black body and its abdomen is almost entirely dark except for a dark yellow segment, according to the Asian Hornet Action team.

Recommended reading:

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What should I do if I see an Asian Hornet?

 Jay Riggs from Zeal CBD, previously issued their expert advice on what to do if you are stung by one. 

Jay said: “If you’re stung from a regular hornet, their sting generally causes mild symptoms, but can be a lot more uncomfortable and more swollen than a bee’s sting.

"But getting stung by an Asian hornet will hurt a lot more, particularly as the toxicity is greater than most stinging insects.

"Its sting can be described as a feeling similar to being stabbed by a red-hot needle. Where the needle punctures the skin, it can swell severely and ache for a few days."

Asian Hornet devours a wasp on the 'UK frontline'

"Asian hornets are likely to sting when they feel threatened and a single Asian hornet can sting once or multiple times," Jay added.

"If you are near a nest, or unsure of the species, it’s best to avoid going anywhere near as sometimes hornets swarm, resulting in multiple stings all at once.

"To be sure, it’s always best to call an expert to remove a nest if you see one.”

What to do if you’re stung by an Asian hornet:

If an Asian hornet stings you, it is important to immediately wash the area thoroughly with soap and cool water, the health expert advised.

You should apply ice to slow the venom spreading further.

When should you see a doctor after an Asian Hornet sting:

If you have been stung and you start to have trouble breathing or find yourself wheezing or having shortness of breath, you might be having an allergic reaction.