Possible Asian hornet sighting in Bognor Regis under investigation
A warning has been issued to the public after an unconfirmed sighting of an Asian hornet in Bognor Regis.
Despite the sighting being back in spring, Melvyn Essen, Asian hornet action team (AHAT) co-ordinator for West Sussex, said there was still a need to warn people to keep an eye out.
Mr Essen said a warning was necessary because an Asian hornet can kill honey bees and other prey insects. He said that although individual hornets pose 'no more threat than a wasp to us', Asian hornet nests 'should not be approached'.
He said: "A lady found a primary nest in her garden and put it in her garden waste bin, alas the queen flew away.
"She did remember seeing yellow legs which the Asian hornet has, our native hornet has dark legs, the other possibility is it could have been a queen wasp.
"Unfortunately the possible sighting was in the spring and has just been brought to our attention when the lady saw some information about the Asian hornet."
Mr Essen emphasised the sighting was unconfirmed but said it was 'best to err on the side of caution'.
"Two Asian hornet nests have been found and destroyed recently in the Christchurch Dorset area following a positive sighting by a member of the public," he added.
According to the AHAT, established Asian hornet nests will produce males and queens in October and November. Newly mated queens would, therefore, be seen on ivy flowers feeding on nectar and will be 'searching for sweet substances rather like wasps at the moment'.
Mr Essen continued: "These queens pose the largest threat, if they hibernate successfully each one could produce a nest in the spring.
"There is an Asian hornet watch app for mobile phone which helps with ID and can be used to report a sighting, with a photo.
"We aim to reduce the threat of the Asian hornet for as long as possible to protect our honey bees and other prey insects."
To help with identification, please visit the British Beekeepers Association website where you can find a map containing local AHAT coordinators.