• Sofia Eugeniou

Asian giant hornets could be heading to the UK

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

The insects, also known as 'murder hornets', have arrived in the US, and they could be coming for the UK.


Also the world's largest hornet (around 5cm long), they kill on average fifty people per year in Asia.


Laced in orange and black stripes, the hornets have a stinger full of venom that contains a neurotoxin. This deadly matter is capable of causing both cardiac arrest and anaphylactic shock (not great news).


Some individuals have reported the Asian giant hornet as decapitating other bees.


Whilst the UK is still dealing with the economic impacts of coronavirus, a hornet invasion of this kind would be devastating.


Experts have warned that an invasion of the hornets was headed to the UK, and would cost a startling £7.6m in research alone.

Image credit: News for Kids

Besides the cost of research, millions of pounds would also be required to get rid of the hornets - money that is desperately required to recover the economy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


As we continue to live in an increasingly connected and globalised world, the risk of these hornets being shipped over from high-risk areas with goods or with food is a real threat. As more of us desire non-seasonal and exotic fruits and vegetables, the risk of invasion is looming.


The fact that the UK is warming as a result of climate change is another factor which can lead to a British invasion, especially as these hornets typically reside in temperate and tropical climates in East Asia, South Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, and parts of the Russian Far East.


The most recent sighting of Asian hornets was confirmed near Christchurch, Dorset, on 1 October 2019, and two nests were destroyed as a result.


In Tamworth, another nest was destroyed on 2 September 2019.


A total of 17 sightings of the Asian hornet have been confirmed since 2016 and nine nests have been eradicated.

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