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Are killer hornets heading for Gloucestershire?

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 18, 2014

Hornets could be heading for Gloucestershire

Comments (7)

A PLAGUE of killer hornets could be heading to the West Country from France.

Swarms of the deadly insects have plagued France and are are responsible for the deaths of six people there and now experts have warned that they could now be headed to the South of England.

The grim warning is contained in the latest House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report on invasive non-native species.

The British Beekeepers Association says it is "likely" that the Giant Asian hornets are heading this way. Their toxic sting can cause death through anaphylactic shock and kidney failure.

They also prey on native honeybees, wasps and other pollinators, potentially devastating hives and threatening honey and crop production.

The hornet is expected to enter Britain either through soil from imported plants or by simply flying across the Channel.

The insects are believed to have made it to France from the Far East in a consignment of Chinese pottery in late 2004. They are thought to have thrived due to a total lack of indigenous predators. As of 2012 the species had colonised 39 of France’s 100 departements.

Last year at least 28 people in China were reported to have been killed by Asian hornets – including a mother and son who were caught in a deadly swarm.

Distinguished by their yellow feet, the hornets grow up to 3cm in length and wield stingers in excess of 6mm in length.

The predators have jaws powerful enough to chew through regular protective bee suits and their venom, which they can spray, dissolves human flesh. If their venom lands in the eyes, the eye tissue will melt, according to a National Geographic documentary.

Contingency plans for the arrival of the Asian hornet are currently being drawn up. Britain currently has an alerting system, with witnesses asked to take pictures and email them along with details of the sightings to the Non Native Species Secretariat.

The British Beekeepers Association said: “Although it is not yet present in the UK, it is considered likely to arrive soon.

"The places it is most likely to be found are in southern parts of England (it may be able to cross the channel from France) or goods among which it could be accidentally imported (such as soil with imported pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and timber.)”

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  • ninelivecat  |  April 20 2014, 5:59PM

    The hornets that are in France are not the giant Asian Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) they are the smaller Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) , they are actually smaller than our native hornets but they are more aggressive and more of a threat to honey bees.

  • Lecorche  |  April 19 2014, 11:11AM

    These unwanted immigrants will have to dodge the local Dragonflies. Now they are vicious. (to other bugs).

  • JemmyWood  |  April 18 2014, 3:51PM

    I can't wait for these Killer Hornets, to meet up with the flesh eating spiders, flick knife wielding feral cats and drug crazed teenagers in Quedgeley.... There's going to be one hell of a Battle Royale... Which over hyped creature will win???

  • GlosAnarchy  |  April 18 2014, 3:30PM

    I forgot to say that in 2010 5 people where killed as a result of wasp, bee or hornet stings in the UK that's about 1 in 10,000,000 people!

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  • GlosAnarchy  |  April 18 2014, 3:09PM

    I also forgot to say they are SMALLER than our native hornets here is a PDF you can print out share that will help you identify them and it also has the contact info - https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/downloadDocument.cfm?id=872

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  • RoadWombat  |  April 18 2014, 3:04PM

    "Save the hornet!". Ah, sorry, I forgot... they're not cute and cuddly, are they?

  • GlosAnarchy  |  April 18 2014, 3:01PM

    Yet another Daily mail story with poor public understanding of the risks to human life! Your about 3.5 times more likely to win the national lottery with a single entry than get killed by one of these hornets in a whole year in China. Would also be a good idea to include a link to the site for reporting sightings! http://tinyurl.com/kgt2fsk

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