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Single Asian hornet found 'alive but dying' in north Dublin home

This is the first time the invasive species has been found in the wild in Ireland.

The Asian hornet specimen
The Asian hornet specimen
Image: A. O'Hanlon, National Museum of Ireland

AN ASIAN HORNET has been identified in the wild in Ireland for the first time.

The Asian hornet – which is in the same family as the Asian giant hornet or “murder hornet”, but is a different species – was found in a private dwelling in the north of Dublin.

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.

“Both NPWS and DAFM have committed to immediate additional surveillance for the Asian hornet, especially around entry points in Ireland with direct access to mainland Europe including ports and airports along with large distribution hubs,” it said.

“Other surveillance traps will be set in strategic locations from the original point of detection in Dublin 3.

“This is in addition to the sentinel apiary programme that DAFM operate with the cooperation of volunteer beekeepers. This involves surveillance for Asian Hornet at apiaries located at strategic locations around Ireland.”

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The Asian hornet is a predator of species such as wasps, honeybees, bumblebees, hoverflies and spiders.

“These prey are important for pollination of crops as well as wild flora and disruptions to their populations may have serious impacts on biodiversity and pollination services.

“However, the potential of the Hornet to become invasive in Ireland is dependent on its successful establishment of colonies here.”

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said that 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,” Noonan said.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is collecting any records of further sightings on its website and mobile app.

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