Category Archives: Species Alert

Asian Hornet – Vespa velutina

Asian HornetThe Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) is the invasive non-native species to look out for at the moment.  It arrived in Britain, the first sighting being in Tetbury, last autumn, and at that time the hornets nests found in that area were successfully destroyed, and it is hoped that the population found last year has been eradicated.  However, this does not mean the war is over, even though that small battle was won.  Experts from the National Bee Unit believe that it is almost inevitable that there will be another invasion of Asian Hornets this year, and are asking the public to be vigilant.

The Asian Hornet originates from the area bordered by Northern India and China, and was first discovered in France in 2005, thought to have been transported in pottery that was imported from China.  The climate in the hornets native range is similar to that in Southern Europe, and may be the reason why is has spread rapidly.

hornets European and Asian Identification

European Hornet on the left, Asian Hornet on the right.

The Asian Hornet can potentially be a threat to people if they sting, but whilst the stings are painful, the hornets are not considered aggressive to people.  They main threat these invasive insects pose is to bees.  They predate social wasps and honeybees, and have been observed hovering over the entrance to bee hives waiting to charge and catch honeybees laden with pollen and nectar.  They eat the majority of the honeybee, and pulp the rest for larval food in the hornets own nest.  This is not good news for the honeybee, which is already under threat due to habitat loss and increase in intensive agricultural practices.  Asian Hornets also consume a wide variety of spiders and other insect prey.

 

You canhornets European and Asian Identification download a fact sheet which will enable you to identify the Asian Hornet here.

 

Advice for Beekeepers regarding this species can be found on BeeBase.

If you think you have seen an Asian Hornet please report your sighting here.

Invasive Species Alert – Quagga Mussels

s300_Wraysbury_Quagga_Mussels_-_David_Aldridge

(c) David Aldridge

Quagga Mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis), have recently been discovered in the River Wraysbury, near Heathrow Airport.  The mussels were found by Environment Agency Staff conducting routine water quality tests on the river, and the mussels were positively identified on 1st October 2014. 

These Mussels were soon famous, making headlines in the newspapers, mentioned on the radio and websites and twitter as well.  But why the fuss?  What sort of a threat can these tiny little mussels pose?

The Quagga Mussel is generally the size of a thumbnail, but can grow to be up to 4cm long.  The mussels are prolific breeders and a fully mature female mussel is capable of producing up to one million eggs per year. The mussels can filter out large quantities of nutrients and in order to breed quickly, so they can significantly reduce native populations and affect freshwater ecosystems. The Quagga Mussel can outcompete native mussels. This alters the ecology of the habitats it invades. It can also block water pipes and smother boats’ hulls. 

WWT London Wetland Centre

(c) Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust -London The London Wetlands Centre, downstream of Wraysbury, could be devastated if the quagga mussels spread to this reserve.

 

So, how do we stop the Quagga Mussel spreading?  The answer is simple, Check, Clean Dry.

Everyone, but particularly, anglers and boaters can play an important part in stopping the spread, and everyone is urged to follow the ‘check, clean, dry’ approach and thoroughly clean any equipment used in water sports or recreation in hot water. 

CHECK your equipment and clothing for living organisms. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp or hard to inspect.

CLEAN and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them.

DRY Dry all equipment and clothing – some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.

Be Plant Wise Logo

For more information on the Check clean dry campaign please follow the link here.

For more information, or if you think you have found a Quagga Mussel and need to report it, please visit this webpage.