Giant Asian Hornet in France, heading to UK

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.

Don’t think it’s just that side of the pond that should be concerned, though. Specimens were apparently spotted in Maryland and Illinois in 2012.

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.

Asian giant hornet

Asian giant hornet


  12 comments for “Giant Asian Hornet in France, heading to UK

  1. busterggi
    April 18, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    We have wasps that size here in Connecticut though they’re pretty rare, they sound like tiny airplanes when they fly by. Lucky they’re not hostile, I’ve never heard of anyone being stung by one.

  2. Nos482
    April 18, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    I like the direction they are going… further away from Germany that is.

  3. Scotty in Devon
    April 18, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    Well it looks like I will have to move to the Shetland Islands. I detest flying stinging insects, and have done all my life. Back home in Australia it was “European Wasps”, here its just the plain garden variety, and now these suckers. I prefer Funnel Webs, Death Adders, and Box Jellyfish. At least the bastards don’t get attracted to your BBQ and fly…..

  4. Peter Robinson
    April 19, 2014 at 3:12 AM

    Once killed a native hornet that was approx 2 inches long so not sure these are ‘giants’.

  5. Nos482
    April 19, 2014 at 4:21 AM

    After reading the wiki article on them, it just occurred to me… could those hornets be used against africanized bees?
    Because honestly, I’d prefer hornets over killer bees. They are easier to identify, not that agressive… and due to their size a better target for hairspray and lighter.

  6. justin
    April 20, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    The major problem is going to be the decline in all bee species in whatever area they inhabit. They main food item is bees. Some bees in Asia have defenses against these hornets. European bees and africanized honey bees do not. That might sound like a good thing, getting rid of all the bees and whatnot, but without bees plant life will virtually vanish. There is a study that shows what will happen when all the bees die. In less than a year we ALL run out of food. So the biggest threat these insects pose to humans is probably not direct. Its indirect, and much much more damaging.

  7. anna
    April 29, 2014 at 5:06 AM

    They have arrived in Kent

  8. martin keane
    May 10, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    I confirm after watching sky news today that I have a nest of Asian Hornets living in my loft have only noticed in last couple of days. These hornets match the details and descriptions you have broadcasted. I live in Hertfordshire and would welcome someone to visit my home and confirm that I have an infestation of Asian Hornets.

  9. Darren richardson
    May 22, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    These are in the UK now I’ve taken a photo of one today .I’ve never seen anything like this huge abdomin.and large wings.

  10. sally
    June 7, 2014 at 6:21 AM

    I have caught one in a glass in Northamptonshire

  11. mat
    June 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Caught one in Leicester today
    You tube

  12. Victoria Brown
    June 15, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I do believe we caught one of these Asian giant killer hornets today on my mum’s farm at Dorr lane, Snaith, East Yorkshire… It is huge, none of us have ever seen anything quite like it including my stepdad and he’s in his 60’s.. are we supposed to notify people that we have found one?

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