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The Asian Hornet has Arrived!

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23rd September 2016

DEFRA have confirmed that an Asian Hornet (just one) has been found this week in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire.  It's not known if it flew here from Europe, or was imported with goods, or if it was born here, but it's currently undergoing DNA testing to help determine its origin (link).

Fortunately the Daily Mail were there to explain the horrors of its arrival, and excrete the "facts" in their traditional, inimitable style.  I should warn you that the following contains actual extracts from the Daily Mail which can bring about paralysis in critical thinking.

The headlines tell us that these "killer" insects are two inches wide.  Really?  Two inches wide!  My goodness, no wonder the Daily Mail think they're such a threat.  Just bumping into one could result in a painful injury.  It's going to take a huge can of bug spray to floor one of these big boys.

Checkout those sub-headings too.  Apparently their sting can "melt flesh".  Gosh, I'd better close all my doors and windows and stay indoors for the remainder of my clearly endangered life.

nonsense

The article goes on to reveal how sports medicine student James Roberts, 35, spotted an Asian Hornet in Northfleet, Kent, which he killed with a rolled up newspaper.  He said he was lucky not to be in hospital after the incident.

Wow, what a lucky escape.  Thank goodness he had his trusty rolled up newspaper there to defend himself against this venomous flesh-melting killer insect.  Here's the picture of the actual beast he fearlessly swatted

dead wasp

But wait!  Is that really an Asian Hornet?  I'm no expert but even I can see that's a little common wasp.  Maybe James Roberts does need to get himself to hospital after all... for an eye test.

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Here's what a real Asian Hornet looks like.  In fact this is the actual one found in Tetbury:

asian hornet

These hornets are slightly smaller than our resident hornets (Vespa crabro) and also have much darker bodies but with yellow legs.  They're sometimes referred to as Yellow Legged Hornets.  In truth these hornets are no more of a risk to human health than any other wasp or bee.

The only people who need to be concerned about the arrival of these hornets are bee keepers.  Asian Hornets are known to be an effective predator of Honey Bees and they will take them, along with other insects, back to their nests to feed their larvae.

To help distinguish between the many Vespa species the French Museum of Natrual History have produced an excellent identification sheet.  It's worth downloading just for the picture of the Mammoth Wasp!  You can get it here: Wasp and Hornet Identification Sheet

If you find an Asian Hornet nest DEFRA advise that you don't get too close, but take a photo if you can and report it to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk



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