Britain On 'High Alert' Over Possible Invasion Of Asian Hornets
Experts have warned that Asian Hornets could be about to invade the UK after a dramatic rise in numbers in Jersey.
A total of 80 hornet queens have been counted on the Channel Island so far this year - which is a considerable increase compared to this time in 2018 when only four were found.
The yellow-legged hornets, who are indigenous to Southeast Asia, originally reached the Channel Islands in 2016 after the insect was accidentally introduced in France in 2004.
The Asian Hornet, which scientifically goes by the vespa velutina, then spread across Europe and made its way to mainland UK, with the first nest spotted in Gloucestershire in 2016.
Speaking about the high numbers of Asian Hornets, Alistair Christie, who works for Jersey's Natural Environment Department, said that 13 "active nests" have already been destroyed this year, compared to just 12 in the whole of 2018.
Speaking to Jersey Evening Post, beekeeper Alistair said: "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."
Following the UK's warm spring, the current wet summer weather is said to make the perfect breeding ground for the bugs.
And just like wasps and bees, an Asian Hornet's sting could prove fatal to anyone allergic to the venom, putting them into anaphylactic shock with fatal consequences within a matter of minutes.
But aside from their deadly potential, the insect poses a threat to the UK's bee population as just one is capable of eating up to 50 honeybees in a single day.
In the wake of the 'high alert' warning, the government has launched free app Asian Hornet Watch to enable people to report possible sightings and send pictures to experts at the National Bee Unit.
And how to spot an Asian Hornet is to look at their abdomen, which is almost completely dark except for a yellow fourth abdominal segment while the European Hornet's abdominal segment is mostly yellow with dark patterns.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images