Vespa velutina is smaller and much darker than our native hornet (Vespa cabro). Whilst our hornet is a bit of a pussy cat with an undeserved reputation towards aggression the asian hornet is a nasty piece of work, they predate honey bees and have had a detrimental impact on honey bee populations on the other side of the channel.
Invasion by non native species is not new to us and a new species of bumble bee arrived on our shores in 2000 and is now found as far north as Iceland (the country not the shop). You may have come across it, the Tree Bee, a small bumble that finds bird boxes the ideal home.
The problem is that our native population has no experience of the asian hornet and will not be able to cope with it for many years to come. We still have that problem with the varroa mite or rather our bees do so we treat our bees against varroa whereas further east honey bees will remove varroa mites off of each other, evolution in action!
What to do if you think you may have seen one? Hopefully you haven’t but we cannot be to careful, we really do not want this species to gain a foothold in the UK. Identification is not easy out in the field …
…. but as you can see the asian hornet is much darker than any of our similar native species although colouration is variable in most species to some degree.
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has a reporting facility here
The National Bee Unit has plenty of addition information on this page including more identification information, plans for a trap and even a free Asian Hornet Watch app!