Giant Asian ‘murder hornets’ which kill dozens of people every year are invading western parts of the world.

The large insects, which are native to tropical climates, have been spotted several times in the US.

The sightings started in November 2019 along the west coast, but it is unclear who they got there.

More than double the size of honeybees, Asian giant hornets have a wingspan measuring more than three inches.

They have a large stinger that contains deadly venom neurotoxin, which can cause cardiac arrest and anaphylactic shock.

Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist, was sent to destroy a hive on Vancouver Island, but was stung several times by one.

An Asian hornet

He told the New York Times : “It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh.” He added he was left bleeding after being stung.

He still managed to destroy the nest, but he said he suffered from leg pains as if he had the flu.

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Despite the deadly threat to humans, entomologists are more concerned that the ‘murder hornets’ will kill bee populations in the US.

Last month, experts warned an invasion of large hornets in the UK, which could cost £7.6m in research alone.

An Asian hornet found in Gloucestershire in 2016

It will cost the country  millions to get rid  of the potentially deadly two-inch insects and have a devastating impact on the already-dwindling bee population.

Asian hornets were accidentally introduced to France from China in 2004 and they have been spreading rapidly throughout Europe ever since.

Experts estimate the Asian hornet colonised most of France at a rate of 60 to 80 kilometres per year.

And the species has swiftly been invading other countries including Spain in 2010, Portugal and Belgium in 2011, Italy in 2012 and Germany in 2014.

The first invasive hornets made it to the UK in 2016.

Features of an Asian hornet

Now French scientists have evaluated the estimated cost of the invasion to Europe.

Professor Franck Courchamp said: “In 2006, only two years after the hornet was first observed in France, three departments were already invaded and the cost of nest destruction was estimated at 408,000 euros.

“Since then, the estimated yearly costs have been increasing by about 450,000 euros each year, as the hornet keeps spreading and invades new departments.

“Definitely more actions need to be taken in order to handle harmful invasive species – one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.”

Nicola Spence, Chief Plant Health Officer, said: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.

“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.

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“Please continue to look out for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”

They analysed the negative impact on ecosystems and the global decline in pollination and honey production.

Attempts to control the invasion concentrate on destroying hornet nests and bait trapping.

But experts say these methods are not enough to completely eradicate the species.





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