Nature Notes – May 2024

by Andy Johnston

At this time of year, you may be surprised to find a queen wasp in your house, especially if it appears on something you are about to handle. Recently a neighbour opened their log burner to discover a hornet wanting to escape! Roughly twice the size of a wasp, the European hornet has a reddish-brown thorax with a yellow and brown striped body. Hornets are becoming more common, but unlike wasps, hornets are rarely aggressive, building their nests in trees. Our biggest threat comes from the Asian hornet which is aggressive, insect feeding (esp. honeybees), and has already altered the bio-diversity in regions of France. It is feared that arrivals from the continent are inevitable, but so far only one active nest has been found and destroyed.

Wet, cold weather has resulted in few summer migrants. So far chiffchaffs and blackcaps are back singing, plus a handful of swallows.