Last October we brought you the completely freak-out worthy story of giant Asian hornets that were killing people in China. Now, they are in France and heading for the UK. Should Europe panic?
Giant Asian hornets which have been blamed for the deaths of six people in France are heading to Kent, according to reports.
Experts believe the insects, whose sting can be fatal, are likely to enter Britain by flying across the Channel. Kent and other parts of the South East are at the highest risk.
The likelihood of them entering the UK has been highlighted in a report by the Government’s Environmental Audit Committee, which says they could arrive “within days”.
The hornets are believed to have entered France via a shipment of Chinese pottery in 2004. It’s possible they can travel in soil with imported pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and timber. Not a stowaway you want to find. They can be 3-5 cm long (that’s almost 2 inches), the world’s largest. It’s native to Eastern Asia where it is known as the “yak-killer hornet”.
Its sting is painful, venomous and can cause a severe allergic reaction or kidney failure. Their venom is no stronger than other bees, there is just more of it due to its size. Stings by these pests killed forty-one people and injured more than 1,600 people in Shaanxi province, China in 2013. They prey on bees, wasps and other insects; they can devastate a honey bee hive.
I can’t find a answer to whether we should be concerned about these invaders and people in China seem to deal with them (except in August when they are prone to swarm). We already have our share of aggressive bees that kill people. It’s just nature. However, like Africanized bees, these insects are from temperate and tropical areas. They likely can not survive harsh winters.
And here is an interesting bit… there is now a market for supplements containing the hornet larva secretions. Marketed as “hornet juice”, manufacturers claim (without sound evidence, of course) that the chemical will enhance human endurance. In Japan, the hornets are eaten.
I like insects and all but these monsters give me the heebie-jeebies.