Warning notices in South Downs over Asian hornets following record UK sightings

Warning notices over Asian hornets have been erected at a South Downs beauty spot following a record number of sightings in the UK this year.

The Asian hornet - Vespa velutina - is also known as the yellow-legged hornet or Asian predatory wasp and is a threat to honey bees and other pollinators.

Warning signs have been put up in Sandgate Woods near Storrington informing people that they must report any sightings immediately.

Joan Grech, secretary of the Sandgate Conservation Society, said: “The Asian hornet is non-native and is detrimental to the UK ecosystem.”

Sulliington Warren. Photo: Brian Burns

She said the Asian hornet is smaller than the European hornet. The European is large and yellow and the Asian hornet is smaller and darker.

She added: “If anyone thinks they have seen an Asian hornet they should report the sighting. They shouldn’t try to deal with a nest.”

She said the European hornet was more docile than the common wasp and both hornets and wasps “are largely beneficial insects and important in the ecosystem. Where possible they should be left alone.”

Society spokesman Brian Burns said he was not aware of any sightings of the hornets at Sandgate Woods but said he thought they were in the county.

A warning notice at Sandgate woods

Any suspected sightings of an Asian hornet should be reported immediately to www.nonnativespecies.org/alerts/asianhornet