The UK is under threat from an invasion of Asian hornets. Alarmingly they have the ability to kill someone with one sting. Accidentally imported into Europe through France from China in 2004. As a result they have been spreading across Europe ever since. They have now been sightings across Europe including Italy, Spain, Belgium and most recently in the UK. Experts have estimated that they have been spreading across France at a rate of 40 to 50 miles per year. They were first spotted in Spain in 2010, Portugal and Belgium in 2011, Italy in 2012 and Germany in 2014.
Not only is the invasion a threat to life. The Hornets are also causing economic woes. Counting the cost of Hornet nest extermination and the devastating attacks on Honey Bee hives. Experts have predicted that it is going to cost the UK £7.6 million to get rid of them. The US in comparison is expected to pay out £23.8 million. Japan is not far behind on £17.2 million.
Asian Hornets Attack Bees
These large insects also prey on smaller creatures like bees. Which is a big concern for the countries that have these invaders, in addition to already declining bee populations. Humans heavily rely on bees in our everyday life. To emphasise this point one of every 3 bites of food eaten rely on bee pollination. Beekeepers in the US and Europe have been reporting hive losses of 30 percent or higher over the past year. Without the additional added threat of the Asian hornet. Ultimately it is important to keep these unwanted insects away. To conclude countries around the world are going to have to set aside funds to deal with this new menace.
At the moment the best way of dealing with this invasion is by destroying their nests. Scientists have said that this will not be enough to completely eradicate the species. In France between thirty and forty percent of detected nests are being destroyed each year. The nests chosen for destruction are the ones that are most dangerous to human life or beekeeping activities. The invasion has prompted experts to call for more to be done. In addition more information needs to gained about the lifecycle and habits of the Hornets.
There are currently apps setup to help the public report Asian Hornet sightings. Furthermore there are measures in place to help citizens exterminate a nest on their property. However the authorities are advising against trying to remove the nest yourself . To conclude it is recommended to employ a trained professional as DIY treatments can be very dangerous.
How to spot an Asian hornet
- It has a dark brown or black velvety body
- You should see a yellow or orange band on fourth section of abdomen
- It will have yellow tipped legs
- Are smaller than the native European hornet
- Are not active at night