As of March 2015, it is known to occur in large parts of France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany (near Karlsruhe). In 2016, it reached the Channel Islands and Great Britain. In 2017, a reproductive queen was sighted in Switzerland (Canton Jura). A distribution is thought possible for the whole of Europe to southern Scandinavia. It is probably only a matter of time when it will reach Austria.
Situation in Austria
On 22.8.2023 the Asian hornet Vespa velutina was observed in Hungary near the Austrian border. The Hungarian Natural History Museum has examined two of the specimens found from Kimle and confirmed that it is the Asian hornet Vespa velutina. From Austria we currently have no confirmed sightings.
We ask the Austrian beekeepers for increased attention in the vicinity of their bee colonies. Based on experience in other countries, we recommend the following procedure: in the coming weeks, during your regular visits to the apiary, observe the flight of bees in front of the colonies for about 20 minutes - this period should be sufficient to detect a possible occurrence of the Asian hornet. In case of suspicion, please document the situation (photo, film) and report the suspicion to the competent authorities. The Federal Office for Food Safety (import control) and the nine state governments are responsible for invasive species. You can find more information here.
Additionally, feel free to send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org for verification. Any positive reports will be forwarded to the appropriate state authorities. Please do not capture or kill any animals, as confusion with native species is possible.
Please see the download section for informational materials to aid in identification.
Vespa velutina is of particular interest to beekeepers because it prefers to hunt social hymenopterans (bees, wasps, flies), spiders and grasshoppers to feed its brood. There are differing opinions on how much damage it can cause to bee colonies. Vespa velutina is diurnal and hunts its prey in flight. In front of the hives it lies in wait for the returning bees in hovering flight. One indication is that in late autumn, when the strength of other insect populations decreases, about 75 bees per day are captured.
Characteristic are the nests (diameter from 40 to 60 cm with lateral exit in high trees. The hornet colony consists of an average of 6,000 individuals, with only the queens hibernating.
The Asian hornet is as harmless to healthy people as the native hornet, Vespa cabro (allergic reactions are possible). Both species behave peacefully and usually attack humans only when threatened. Particularly disturbing is the noisy flight.
Last updated: 30.08.2023