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The invasion, provenance and diversity of Vespa velutina Lepeletier (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Great Britain

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Giles Budge, Dr Maureen WakefieldORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 Budge et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The yellow-legged or Asian hornet (Vespa velutina colour form nigrithorax) was introduced into France from China over a decade ago. Vespa velutina has since spread rapidly across Europe, facilitated by suitable climatic conditions and the ability of a single nest to disperse many mated queens over a large area. Yellow-legged hornets are a major concern because of the potential impact they have on populations of many beneficial pollinators, most notably the western honey bee (Apis mellifera), which shows no effective defensive behaviours against this exotic predator. Here, we present the first report of this species in Great Britain. Actively foraging hornets were detected at two locations, the first around a single nest in Gloucestershire, and the second a single hornet trapped 54 km away in Somerset. The foraging activity observed in Gloucestershire was largely restricted to within 700 m of a single nest, suggesting highly localised movements. Genetic analyses of individuals from the Gloucestershire nest and the single hornet from Somerset suggest that these incursions represent an expansion of the European population, rather than a second incursion from Asia. The founding queen of the Gloucestershire nest mated with a single male, suggesting that sexual reproduction may have occurred in an area of low nest density. Whilst the nest contained diploid adult males, haploid ‘true’ males were only present at the egg stage, indicating that the nest was detected and removed before the production of queens. Members of the public reported additional dead hornets associated with camping equipment recently returned from France and imported timber products, highlighting possible pathways of incursion. The utility of microsatellites to inform surveillance during an incursion and the challenge of achieving eradication of this damaging pest are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Budge GE, Hodgetts J, Jones EP, Ostoja-Starzewski JC, Hall J, Tomkies V, Semmence N, Brown M, Wakefield M, Stainton K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2017

Volume: 12

Issue: 9

Online publication date: 26/09/2017

Acceptance date: 07/09/2017

Date deposited: 11/10/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185172


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