An Asian hornet that kills honey bees has been spotted in Cornwall.
The insect was seen the Fowey area and as a result, inspectors from the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Bee Unit have started carrying out surveillance and monitoring a 2km radius around the initial sighting.
Asian hornets pose no added risk to human health but in order to protect bees, any nests found will be destroyed, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
Nicola Spence, Defra’s deputy director for plant and bee health, said: “We are taking swift and robust action to locate and investigate any nests in the south Cornwall area following this confirmed sighting.
“Following the successful containment of the Asian hornet incursion in North Devon last year and Tetbury previously, we have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.
“We remain vigilant across the country, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors.”
The sighting comes a week before the British Beekeepers’ Association’s Asian Hornet Week, during which time its members are urged to be vigilant in checking their hives for invading hornets.
Asian hornets were first spotted in France in 2004 and are thought to have arrived in the UK in 2016. This is the second time the species has been spotted in the UK this year, after one was seen in Bury, in April.
The Asian hornet is slightly smaller and darker in colour than other hornets, according to the National Bee Unit website. The fourth segment of its abdomen is yellow, while the rest is a dark colour. It also has yellow tips on its legs.
They are not to be confused with the Giant Asian hornets which are (thankfully) not found in the UK.