When do wasps die off in UK?

asian hornet

When do wasps die off in UK?


When do wasps die off in UK? Don’t we all want to know the answer to that one?! The good news is that Worker wasps don’t live through the winter, they die off every year.


But … have you heard about the Asian Hornets (Vespa velutina) that are making their way over to the UK (sorry!)


The first Asian hornet was found in Gloucestershire near Tetbury, and the experts are working hard to find and destroy the nests. DEFRA have decided that this is a serious enough event that they have set up a 3-mile surveillance zone from the original sighting.


Why is the hornet such bad news?

Apart from the human issues with a huge hornet, this hornet kills our native honeybees. Our bees are not showing signs of evolving to deal with this insurgent threat, which is very worrying as this hornet has the potential to cause serious damage to our pollinating colonies. It’s not just the honeybees that are being threatened, but other pollinating insects. The Asian Hornet is not just threatening our wildlife, but our whole farming infrastructure! It is, therefore, no wonder that DEFRA are so concerned with the presence of these invasive hornets.


asian hornet

asian hornet

How to identify an Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina

  • The Vespa velutina queens can reach a length of 3cm
  • The worker hornets have been found to be up to a length of 2.5cm
  • They are different in colour to our wasps. Their body is dark brown or black and have a narrow yellow band
  • There is one band on their abdomen
  • The fourth abdominal segment has been observed to be completely orange or yellow
  • Their legs are brown with yellow
  • The heads are black with an orange face

Source: National Bee Unit



Where have hornets been seen?

  • 2004, France.

The Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, was brought into Europe by accident in a shipment of Chinese pottery.

  • 2014, Portugal

A tree fell in Portugal releasing a nest resulting in over 600 school children being evacuated from their building.

  • 2016, UK

This summer on Jersey and Alderney, the Asian Hornet was found for the first time.



DEFRA response


“We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian Hornet for some years and have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread. It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies. That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests. We remain vigilant across the country, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors.”

Nicola Spence, Defra Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health


DEFRA action

DEFRA has been clear that the arrival of these hornets has been anticipated. Current thought about the Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, is that they will not be able to survive in the cold winters of the north of the UK. There is no current comment about the rest of the UK.

The Asian hornet that was found on the 20th September was killed, and its DNA is being examined in an attempt to work out how it came to be in the UK.

In the 3-mile radius that is being kept by DEFRA, beekeepers and inspectors have set up traps and infrared cameras. They are planning on using these to locate any nests so that they can be destroyed.



When do wasps die off in UK?

You can rest assured that very soon we will be rid of our native wasps, but now we have to deal with the Asian Hornet.



To find out more, or if you think you may have seen one of these hornets, visit the website of the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat for more information.

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