Magazine article Geographical

STING IN THE TALE: The Rapid Spread of Asian Hornets Is Likely to Make Them a Regular Sighting in the UK over the Coming Years

Magazine article Geographical

STING IN THE TALE: The Rapid Spread of Asian Hornets Is Likely to Make Them a Regular Sighting in the UK over the Coming Years

Article excerpt

In September last year, staff at an apiary near Tetbury in Gloucestershire spotted something they had anticipated but hoped they'd never see--Asian hornets foraging for food. They alerted DEFRA, which set up a three-mile surveillance zone around the site, eventually locating and destroying the hornets' nest. It was the first sign of a nationwide species invasion which authorities have been expecting for a long time, and which looks likely to escalate in the near future.

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is native to large swathes of Southeast Asia, from India and China all the way down to Indonesia, and is believed to have first arrived in Europe in 2004 among a French shipment of Chinese pottery. Over the subsequent decade, hornets established colonies across much of Western Europe, from Portugal and Spain through to Belgium and Germany, and then, last summer, in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Alderney.

New research from the University of Warwick now predicts that, given a chance, there could potentially be hundreds of thousands of Asian hornet nests across the UK within the next two decades (although cold winters in the north will likely prevent them colonising the entire country). …

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