Vespa velutina: invasive species of Europe

Vespa velutina: invasive species of Europe.


Vespa velutina is also known as the Asian hornet and is a highly invasive species, its favorite preys are bees and pollinating insects. A recent study claims that the first individual was found in Ireland. It suggests that the total European population originated from a single individual that reproduced in France. This first individual has helped reconstruct the entire history of the European invasion of this species. 


In a recent study, scientists tried to determine its origin with DNA. Genetic analyzes have proved that both the Irish specimen and the others present in Europe are all related to each other. A single invasive event started by a single hornet in France in 2004. A single mating that would have kicked off one of the fastest invasions expanding by around 80 km per year in continental Europe.

This brings two pieces of news: one good and one bad. The good news is related to the very low genetic variability of the population. The bad news is confirmation of the enormous potential of its invasiveness and expansion. In Italy its presence is sporadic, however it was recorded in 2012 in Liguria, Piedmont and nearby regions, all in northern Italy. Vespa velutina is no more aggressive and dangerous than other similar ones present in Italy, such as the oriental wasp or the common hornet.

  • The European invasion of Vespa velutina could have started from a single specimen (


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