VIGILANCE is needed from the public to stop a vicious pest from establishing itself in west Dorset and causing a huge loss to wildlife, experts say.

The West Dorset Beekeepers Association has highlighted its concerns about the Asian hornet, with the number of reported sightings on the rise.

It is a highly aggressive predator of native insects and poses a significant threat to honey bees and other pollinators.

It isn’t a native species and urgent steps are needed to prevent the it from establishing itself in the UK. Incursions identified last year appear to have been contained, but the association has warned it’s a matter of 'when, not if' it establishes itself permanently.

About 60 people attended a workshop in Bridport about reducing the threat of the Asian hornet.

It was co-ordinated and led by Peter Crabbe, who said 'all eyes are needed' to spot them.

Association chairman, Caroline Dilke, said: “The experts say it is a matter of when, not if, Asian hornets arrive in the south west. Last year, six nests were spotted in this country and destroyed before they could gain a foothold by producing fertile queens. Any day now, queen hornets will be emerging from hibernation.

“What to look for? Our native, European hornet looks like a large wasp, with a mainly yellow body and brown legs. The Asian hornet is slightly smaller but darker, with yellow legs up to the knee.”

At the meeting in Bridport, Mr Crabbe organised for Asian hornet traps to be available for purchase.

The traps are easy to assemble and include sachets of bait. If an Asian hornet is identified, the insect should be retained and a photograph taken. The hornet must not be released, but can be killed by freezing.

Mrs Dilke added: “Let’s hope we do not find an Asian invader in west Dorset. But if we do, we should report the sighting. A free Asian hornet app can be downloaded and you can send a photograph. Then leave it to the experts to make the next move.”

To report a sighting, visit or