Asian hornets could be heading to Britain

Vespa Velutina has already killed six in France, according to report

Heather Saul
Thursday 17 April 2014 12:00
Comments
The Vespa Velutina, a predatory Asian hornet, could be heading for England soon
The Vespa Velutina, a predatory Asian hornet, could be heading for England soon

Swarms of Asian hornets which have already killed six in France could be on their way to Britain, experts have warned.

Southern parts of England are likely to be among the first hit by the invasive non-native species, which may be able to cross the Channel from France.

The hornet arrived in France in 2005 and could reach England soon, according to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (ECA) report on invasive, non-native species.

Queens are typically up to 30mm long, whereas worker bees grow up to 25mm. They have an entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band.

The hornets have a toxic sting which can potentially cause anaphylactic shock and kidney failure. The “highly aggressive” hornets are a predatory species and pose a significant threat to other native bees, wasps and pollinators.

The ECA report discussed the Asian hornet as part of a new blacklist of invasive alien species being drawn up in order to limit environmental and ecological damage across Europe.

The Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS) is helping the Environment Agency and Natural England to develop Rapid Response Plans for species, as well as contingency plans for the arrival of the Asian Hornet, according to the report.

Britain has already implemented an alerting system for the Asian hornet. Those who believe they may have spotted the species are asked to email pictures and details of the sighting to the NNSS.

On its website, the British Beekeepers Association has warned anyone who finds an active hornet’s nest not to provoke or disturb it “under any circumstances”.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) said after the ECA report was released: "This report recognises we have the most advanced approach across Europe in tackling the threat of invasive non-native species, helping identify and prevent the spread of plants and animals that don't belong here.

"Through targeted surveillance, working with industry, voluntary groups and the public as well as strict controls at the border, we are able to take swift action on the ground, including eradication, or if not possible, containment.

"We keep our approach under review and are working with European partners on measures to strengthen the response across borders."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in