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Asian Hornets

Asian hornets are more vicious than smaller varieties and carry a much larger amount of potent venom
It appears the predators - which are around 3cm long, but are more vicious than smaller varieties and carry a much larger amount of potent venom - have reached the UK.

Asian hornets, which are originally from the Far East, have reportedly been spotted in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Devon in the last week.

There was no way I was going to try and whack it - it was about 3 cm long and looked pretty angry. Chris Taylor believes he spotted an Asian hornet in East Sussex. They are believed to have been inadvertently imported to France in 2004 in a shipment of pottery from China.

They have since spread throughout the country and at least six people have already died from anaphylactic shock after being stung by the animals, which can devour up to 45 honey bees a day.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said no confirmed sightings have been made in Britain, but those already allegedly seen in the south of England will be investigated.

The Asian hornets, which are smaller and less dangerous that the Giant Asian hornet - also called the Japanese hornet - are now widespread in France and fears have now been raised that they are on their way over to the UK in their droves after a string of sightings over the past week.

Bee keepers have now been put on high alert by the National Bee Unit (NBU), which works for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It has asked members of the public to report any sighting of nests.

Asian hornets inject a toxic sting made up of eight chemicals that cause an allergic shock in humans
James Roberts, 35, of Northfleet, Kent, claimed he killed an Asian hornet last week after it flew past him in his garden. He said the hornet was around two-inches long and that he hit it with a newspaper before flushing it down the plughole.

He said: "I felt something big pass my back and at first thought I was stung, but I wasn't.

"I went back inside and it must have followed me in because I then noticed it trapped behind the kitchen curtain near the sink.

"I gave it a whack with a rolled up newspaper and it flew off to die in the basin. I have alerted the appropriate authorities."

Another Asian hornet was reportedly spotted by Lynne Brigg, who trapped it under a glass, at her Surrey home last week.

Lynne Brigg trapped what is believed to have been an Asian hornet under a glass at her home in Surrey. In Hatherleigh, Devon, another Asian hornet was said to have been spotted by Beverley Palfreman.

She said: "The one I saw was brown with a yellow head - an Asian hornet."

Chris Taylor, of Hastings, East Sussex, said he spotted an Asian hornet at the weekend.

He said: "It flew past me as I opened the door to the postman and I thought 'what the hell was that?'. It landed on my kitchen table and I just stared at it and hoped it would fly back out the door.

"There was no way I was going to try and whack it - it was about two inches long and looked pretty angry.

"In the end it found its way back outside and I slammed the door and closed all the windows - I've never seen anything like it."

A National Bee Unit spokesman said: "The Asian hornet, also known as the yellow legged hornet, is native to Asia and was confirmed for the first time in the South West of France in 2004.

"It was thought to have been imported in a consignment of pottery from China and it quickly established and spread to many regions of France.

"The hornet preys on honeybee and disrupts the ecological role which it provides, harming commercial beekeeping activities.

"It has also altered the biodiversity in regions where it is present and is potentially deadly to allergic people.

"All beekeepers should remain vigilant and be on the look out for it in their apiaries."

He added: "Nests are founded by a single queen who rapidly starts laying eggs after building her nest in April.

"As the colony size increases through the summer, it will reach an average population of 6,000 individuals and in July, hornets will begin predating on honey bee colonies."

Asian hornets nest in a tree in Aquitaine, France
It said the likely areas to be on the lookout for Asian hornets was the south and south East of England, adding: "We strongly encourage that all beekeepers monitor for the Asian hornet."

Anyone who finds a dead suspected Asian hornet should send it to the National Bee Unit lab so it can be checked.

The spokesman added: "If you suspect that you have found an Asian hornet, you can send a suspect sample to the NBU laboratory for examination.

"Use a suitable sturdy container (cardboard rather than plastic) and provide as much detail as possible about the hornet and where you found it."

A Defra spokesman said it was aware of the "potential impact" that Asian hornets could have on honey bees and that any confirmed nests would be removed as soon as they were identified.

A spokesman for the London Beekeepers' Association posted a photo on Twitter of a European hornet and an Asian hornet - warning members to report any sightings immediately.


Danny Boyle

We all love bees those fluffy, industrious little workers who make delicious honey and help the environment. Not like wasps. Wasps are jerks. Right?

If you found yourself agreeing just then, you're certainly not alone. A recent study published in the journal Ecological Entomology has confirmed that people almost universally love bees and hate wasps people like wasps even less than flies, and those guys are real sleazebags.



To be fair, wasps, whether you’re dealing with yellowjackets or hornets, as well as bees can be pretty dangerous. Per Lifehacker, they account for 33 percent of all animal-related deaths for over-20s in the US. The collective injection of their venom into your body can certainly provoke some horrific and sometimes deadly reactions, that’s for sure, so knowing what to do in the event of an attack is paramount.

So what should you do? The best advice is pretty obvious: don’t go near their nests. If you leave them alone, they won’t feel threatened and they’ll leave you be too, contrary to what your instinctual fears may be telling you.


The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) offers some important advice that’s admittedly difficult to stick to. Remain calm and move away slowly if you encounter wasps, hornets or bees, a blog post explains. Don't wave your arms around or swat at them. If you do, you’ll just provoke them to attack you further, as you’ll look more threatening.

You shouldn’t even swat at them individually. If you do, they may release pheromones that attract more wasps or bees your way, according to the British Pest Control Association.

If you're somewhere in the Americas and you get particularly unlucky, the swarm may be comprised of Africanized honey bees. Although featuring less venom per bee than others, their swarms are more populous, faster, and more aggressive.

In that event, the US Department of Agriculture advises that you RUN away quickly the capitalization being theirs.

“Do not stop to help others. However, they hasten to note, small children and the disabled may need some assistance. You should also pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face, but make sure you know where you’re running before you go temporarily blind.

If you jump into water, these particular bees will genuinely wait for you to come up for air, so you should instead run indoors. Even if some follow you inside, they tend to become disorientated in well-lit areas, providing you with a chance at further escape in your chosen shelter.

If you are stung and you feel ill, you should seek medical attention immediately. If there are just a handful of stings protruding into your flesh, you should remove them carefully but don’t pinch them with your fingers, as this will inject more venom into the body. Instead, scrape it out with a sideways slice using a thin object.

The NHS’ other advice is more preparatory work: cover exposed skin with clothing, apply insect repellent, wear shoes outdoors, and be careful around flowering plants, trash, compost, standing and stagnant water, and anywhere food is served. If you know you’re allergic, carry your epinephrine pen with you in such environments.

They also advise not wearing strong perfumes, which can be found in anything from deodorants to soaps, that can attract a variety of insects to you.

So, in general, avoid nests and try not to be clumsy. If swarmed, walk away and stay calm.




By Robin Andrews edited from