Asian hornets: UK prepares for influx of potentially deadly insects
Giant hornets are expected to invade the UK in huge numbers this summer.
The warning comes from the man whose job it is to tackle the spread of the insects. Alastair Christie has reportedly counted 20 times the number of Asian hornet queens as there were this time last year.
Mr Christie, Jersey’s hornet co-ordinator, said he spotted 80 queens in Jersey. The invasive species of insect are a danger to the ecosystem as they eat up to 50 bees a day, adversely affecting pollination.
UK on high alert
Mr Christie told the Jersey Evening Post, “A lot of people are on high alert, which means the amount of reports is much higher than last year.
“So far we have had a total of 203 reported sightings of Asian hornets and of those, just 80 turned out to be a hornet – the rest were just wasps, bees and other pollinating insects.
“But while the increased amount of sightings is partly down to people being more aware, it is also undoubtedly due to the fact that there are more of them on the Island this year.”
Mr Christie’s job is to slow down the spread of Asian hornets, which were accidentally spread to France 15 years ago.
Since then, they have spread around Europe and were spotted in the UK for the first time in 2016, when a nest was found in Gloucestershire.
Sightings this year
With sightings on the Isle of Wight earlier this year, and now in Jersey, it is feared that the hornets will soon make it to the rest of the UK.
Asian hornets can chew through clothing and their sting can send a person into anaphylactic shock, which can prove deadly.
The British Beekeepers Association has plans in place for the monitoring of Asian hornets. It says that it is highly important that every sighting of the breed is reported. This can be done by taking a photo with the Asian Hornet app on your phone.
Dorset Beekeepers Association have written on their website, “The Asian Hornet eats many types of insects and those insects are the pollinators of our flowers. A serious invasion by the Asian Hornet could have a serious effect on our environment.”