BASC is once again calling on members to help protect the native population of honey bees and pollinators by supporting efforts to eradicate the invasive Asian hornet.
Members and the wider shooting community are being asked to report the presence of Asian hornets via an app, online recording form or by email.
Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, said Asian hornets posed a serious threat to UK’s wildlife, especially honey bees and other insects, which risks disastrous impacts on the pollination of plants and crops.
In rare cases, the hornet is a danger to human health. Mr Danby said it was “essential” sightings of Asian hornets were detected and reported to Defra so a response can be made.
“Asian hornet sightings have been recorded at least three times this year in the UK, firstly in Hampshire in July and twice so far in September in Leicestershire and Kent,” he said.
“It is vital these insects are detected early so that they can be eradicated before they establish.
“In 2018 there were nine confirmed sightings with four nests found and destroyed. Most of these sighting were in September and so it is a key time to know your hornets and be vigilant.”
Robin Marshall-Ball, a member of BASC Council and conservation specialist, said: “People who shoot are the eyes and ears of the countryside and are the perfect people to be on the lookout for Asian hornets.
“Shooting has a management influence over two thirds of the rural land area and with that access to that amount of land we are a key group to be vigilant for sightings of Asian Hornets and their nests and report them to specialist agencies.
“Asian hornets are smaller than native hornets but their abdomens are almost entirely black. Their flight time ends in November although any nests will be seen after then and are unusually large.”
The species arrived in France in 2004 and spread rapidly throughout Europe before their presence in the UK was confirmed, in Gloucestershire, for the first time in 2016.
Mr Danby said ideally sightings should be sent in via an Asian hornet watch app or via an online recording form:
He said people can also email government agencies with sightings. Please send a photograph and location details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Jean Haxaire