The Portland Hornet?

If I were to go back some 50 years and be chatting to my careers advisor at school I think I might opt for being an Asian Hornet coordinator. Not that such roles existed in those days.

I know you are really keen to know why.

Well on Monday night I received an email to say there had been a possible sighting of an Asian Hornet on Portland. Now I did walk right round Portland the other day from the Merchant’s Incline right round to Fortuneswell. All the time I was looking for pale brown football shapes high in trees or large flying insects. I saw neither but in that wind it was not likely anything would be flying – well not through choice.

Ever one to step up to the mark I said I would go down on Tuesday and have a look – I had already checked the weather forecast!

I made my way to the area that had been described and there I sought out a suitable patch of ivy. The ivy is going over now but there are areas where it is still flowering. I found a suitable dry spot in the sun and settled myself down for a long wait – having got out my sandwiches and flask – I was well prepared.

It is amazing what you see if you just sit still and look. In the space of an hour or so I saw lots of Ivy Bees, three species of butterfly, a Hornet Hoverfly, several lizards and a Red Kite. The Red Kite I saw when I stretched my neck to look up for a change.

There was no sign of the Asian Hornet – mixed emotion over that. A sighting would confirm its presence but then we don’t want it here. Lack of a sighting does not confirm it is not present. (Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.)

I suspect it may have been a sighting of the Hornet Hoverfly that led to the report but we are checking on that. The initial report did say “yellow legs” and the Hornet Hoverfly does not have yellow legs. There is a picture on the App which you can download for your smart phone which allows you to report suspected sightings as well as show insects which may be confused with the Asian Hornet. I have also included a picture at the bottom of the page.

After a couple of hours sitting in the sun I packed up my bag and moved on. A good day’s work.

So what can we conclude from that.

All of us have to remain alert to the threat. We should have the Asian Hornet app on our phone. The queens will soon be hibernating but absence of leaves on the trees will give us a better chance of finding nests and thus be better informed as to where we need to target our efforts next spring.

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