An invasive species which preys on bees, the Asian hornet, has been found in Ireland for the first time.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage confirmed that the single specimen had been found in a private dwelling house on the northside of Dublin.
It is the first identification of the species in the wild in Ireland.
The Asian hornet is a predator of honeybees, wasps and other pollinators such as bumblebees, hoverflies and spiders, which it uses primarily to feed its larvae.
“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,” the Department of Housing said on Friday.
The NPWS is working closely with the Department of Agriculture to monitor the situation and put contingency measures in place.
How it arrived in Ireland
It was found “alive but dying” and, at this time, there is no indication of a nest in the vicinity.
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.
However, given current weather patterns, it seems less likely to have come from an established nest, the Department said.
“While the discovery of a single specimen is not a cause for alarm, it does remind us of the potential for invasive alien species to find a path of introduction into new areas and also serves as a timely reminder that we should be prepared to deal with the threat they pose to biodiversity and local ecosystems,” it said.
Minister of State Malcolm Noonan commented 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.”
Should any further Asian hornets be found, records of sightings, including photo if possible, can be submitted via the National Biodiversity Data Centre website (www.biodiversityireland.ie) or the easy-to-use NBDC mobile app.
For general queries or information relating to invasive alien species, email the NPWS at email@example.com.