David Element

 

Wildlife Photography and Digital Video Images

 

________________________________________________________________ Hymenoptera 29 - Asian Hornets

 

 

 

 

 

ASIAN HORNET Vespa velutina

 

 

ASIAN HORNET Vespa velutina

 

 

ASIAN HORNET Vespa velutina

 

 

ASIAN HORNET Vespa velutina

 

 

ASIAN HORNET Vespa velutina

 

         Warnings have been issued by DEFRA explaining the actions that will need to be taken following the recent discovery of invasive Asian Hornets Vespa velutina in the UK as they are perceived to pose a significant threat to Honey Bees Apis mellifera. It is believed that modifications to the slit-widths of French bee-hives may have offered some security for the bees but this will not protect them once that have emerged from the security of their hives. Whether the arrival of these large and reportedly aggressive wasps will prove to cause more damage to the Honey Bee population than the many other existing threats, both natural (e.g. predation by Bee-wolf Philanthus triangulum, European Hornet Vespa crabro) or anthropogenic (e.g. insecticides and other chemicals used for agriculture that pose a threat on a much larger scale and often in an insidious manner) remains to be seen but it would seem unlikely. Any sightings of nests or the wasps themselves will need to be reported to: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-app-to-report-asian-hornet-sightings. Although it has proven possible to intercept and destroy all of the reported Asian Hornets at the time of writing (2019) it is almost inevitable that they will become established and likely that their eventual range will be determined not by control measures but by the climate. The invasion of the UK by another Asian insect (the Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis) has proven to be catastrophic for those native ladybird species that have been unable to compete so it is quite understandable why damage-limitation is being attempted in this case. There is also the interesting conundrum about the potential arrival of the Bee-eater Meriops apiaster as a permanent breeding species in the UK. Their arrival would be popular and welcomed by bird-watchers but probably not by apiculturists. In fact Asian Hornets eat a variety of other foods and they demonstrated a fondness for over-ripe apples in Portugal where these photographs were taken and Bee-eaters eat many other insects apart from bees (and their menu almost certainly includes Asian Hornets)!

 

 

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David Element