Huge insect sparks fears Asian hornets have arrived in Kent

#1

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Pictures showing a huge insect almost 5cm long sparked fears Asian hornets had arrived in Kent.

The enormous wasp-like creature was spotted in a living room in Beckhenham this morning (April 22).

Neil Caines posted pictures to Facebook asking what the terrifying-looking insect was.

In quick succession a number of concerned people warned: “It’s an Asian hornet, be careful it’s dangerous.”

Another worries commenter wrote: "Feel free to kill it. Asian hornets are a massive problem in Europe.

“They kill bees and aren’t supposed to be in our regions. If you find the nest contact local authorities as they can be mortal to us!”

But the markings on the insect indicate it is probably our native European hornet, which is less of a threat than the Asian hornet.

Mr Caines said: "I just found one in my living room this morning.

"I had all my doors open yesterday so it probably just came in.

"It looks like it could have just opened the door itself!

“I heard it last night but couldn’t see it. Found it this morning.”

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What’s a European hornet?

Our native European hornet looks like a large wasp, with a mainly yellow body and brown legs.

Their heads are brown and yellow, and they often have black markings on their legs.

It is the largest wasp in Europe and is often around 50mm.

They may seen terrifying but insect experts say they are less likely to sting you than the common wasp as they generally avoid conflict.
But their sting can be painful and due to their size, they release a potentially dangerous amount of venom, so you should seek medical attention if you get stung.

Hornets release more venom per sting than any other stinging insect.
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What’s an Asian hornet?

According the gov.uk website, the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is dangerous to our honey bees and pollinating insects.

It is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than other hornets or bees.

But beekeeping experts shave said it would be “disastrous to the ecosystem” if they settle in the UK.

Which is why everyone is being encouraged to report suspected sightings.

When a sighting is confirmed, experts from the National Bee Unit (NBU) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will work quickly to find and destroy any active nests in the area.

There is a risk of accidentally transporting an Asian hornet when returning to the UK from abroad.

Neil Caines posted pictures to Facebook asking what the terrifying-looking insect was.

In quick succession a number of concerned people warned: “It’s an Asian hornet, be careful it’s dangerous.”
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Are they in the UK?

There have been 13 confirmed sightings of the Asian hornet in England and six nests have been destroyed.

Nine of these sightings occurred in 2018; an individual hornet in Lancashire (April) and Hull, three in Cornwall, two in Hampshire, one in Surrey (all September).

The last known sighting of an Asian hornet was in Kent in October 14, 2018.

The government insists there have been no sightings since.

Nicola Spence, Chief Plant Health Officer, said: "By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.

"While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.

“Please continue to look out for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”

What does an Asian hornet look like?

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Asian hornets:

  • have a dark brown or black velvety body
  • have a yellow or orange band on fourth segment of abdomen
  • have yellow tipped legs
  • are smaller than the native European hornet
  • are not active at night

What should I do if I come across an Asian Hornet?

  • Stay away from their nests to avoid group attack, they do not generally sting without provocation.
  • Don’t run. They can fly faster than you can run and are intrigued by moving targets and consider running a provocation. Crouch low to the ground, stop moving and try to cover your head.
  • Giant hornets are excited by bright colours so wear brown or black.
  • They are drawn to perfume and aftershave.
  • They’re also agitated by the smell of alcohol.
  • Sightings should be sent with a photograph and location details to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk
  • Do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest
  • The cost of eradication on private land will be met by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, who can be contacted through Defra on the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. The Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm. There is an out of hours facility on the same number for reporting suspicion of disease in animals. You can also email apha.corporatecorrespondence@apha.gsi.gov.uk . For Wales, contact 0300 303 8268.
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#2

Great information! Thanks for posting.

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