By Kim O’Leary
An Asian hornet has been identified in Ireland for the first time. The insect which is native to parts of Asia and Russia was found in a private home in North Dublin recently.
The hornet was found “alive but dying” and was photographed by the owner of the home, who sent the images to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
There is currently no indication of a nest in the area where the hornet was found. The hornet’s species – Asian hornet, or vespa velutina – was verified by the National Museum of Ireland.
Authorities are putting in place additional surveillance to watch for any further presence of Asian hornets, but say that while the finding of the first specimen is concerning, it should not cause alarm.
In a statement, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said that it does not yet know how the hornet arrived in Ireland.
“The circumstances of how the specimen arrived in the country are not known. There are many possible pathways of introduction particularly for small mobile invasive species in urban areas with extensive regional, national and international connectivity,” the department said.
“However, given current weather patterns it seems less likely to have come from an established nest,” it said.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service at the housing department is working with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine to monitor the situation and establish contingency measures.
“While both Departments are concerned about the discovery of this insect, it should be stressed that, on the basis of the ongoing surveillance, there is no evidence that the Asian Hornet is established in Ireland at this time,” the statement said.
The Asian hornet is a predator of species such as wasps, honeybees, bumblebees, hoverflies and spiders.
Due to the threat to such important species, the Asian Hornet preying on them can lead to serious impacts on biodiversity and pollination services.
Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said that while the public’s vigilance is welcome, “it is important that there should not be an over-reaction to sightings of other large insects such as wood wasps and native social wasps. It is imperative other species are not targeted, disrupted or destroyed on foot of this discovery of the Asian hornet specimen”.
Further information on the Asian hornet, including identification aids and contact details for the competent authorities can be found on the NPWS website and www.biodiversityireland.ie/asian-hornet-alert/