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Look out for Asian hornets, gardeners are urged

Following warnings that a large invasion of Asian hornets might be about to hit the UK, one has recently been spotted in a Channel Island beer garden.

The oversized striped insect was seen attempting to drink from a pint of lager at the Mermaid Inn on the small island of Sark. The insects have already arrived on the neighbouring island of Jersey in large numbers, with 80 queens being counted so far this year. In 2018, there were just four.

Sightings have also been reported on the UK mainland, although some are likely to be similar bugs such as wasps, bees or other striped insects – including the native European hornet. As people are on high alert, this does tend to lead to more reported sightings.

Bees are under threat from the Asian hornet, as one insect is capable of consuming up to 50 honeybees per day. This then has a detrimental effect on the process of pollination, as well as the production of honey.

For this reason, a number of nests have already been destroyed this year on Jersey, killing the resident queen in each. The Asian hornets made their way to Europe in 2004, when they were accidentally introduced. The first UK nest was seen in Gloucestershire in 2016.

While the hornets are capable of killing those who are allergic to their venom, for most a sting is similar to that of a bee. Anyone with such an allergy is at risk of going into anaphylactic shock, and thus must seek immediate medical assistance.

Water, wood and meat in particular have been known to attract the insects.

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