TWO enormous hornets have been spotted in Devon – sparking fears the killer Asian hornet has invaded Britain this summer.
The monster insect, measuring about 4cm, was at first thought to be a “humming bird” when it buzzed past a horrified Brit.
Asian hornets can kill with a single sting (stock image)[/caption]
Asian hornets contain a neurotoxin that can kill in just a single sting.
The witness told Devon Live that he was in a walled vegetable garden at the Arlington Court National Trust property when “something huge” flew past on Sunday.
He said: “It was about 4cm long, mostly black but with an orange tinge to the tail.
“Its wingspan was enormous – a horrible, ugly looking thing.”
But after the picture was flagged to the British Beekeepers Association, who confirmed it was a large European hornet.
Another hornet was later spotted in Barnstaple inside a delivery driver’s car.
Rob King said: “I dropped the window and it went out. After looking online I’m convinced it was a giant Asian hornet.
“People need to be made aware that these insects are now in North Devon and carry a potential risk of death.”
It comes after the hornets have arrived in larger numbers on Jersey, a location that is their staging post for flying to the UK.
Alastair Christie, the Channel Island’s co-ordinator, said 13 “active nests” have been destroyed already, compared to just 12 nests in the whole of last year.
The warm spring followed by rainy weather is perfect for breeding.
One expert said: “They are a threat to biodiversity.”
What are Asian hornets?
Asian hornets, which have the Latin name Vespa velutina, are large insects that prey on smaller creatures, especially bees.
Experts are worried the hornets could have a devastating impact on Britain’s already dwindling honey bee population.
Asian hornets look similar to native European hornets but with darker colouring.
Queens grow up to 3cm in length, and workers up to 2.5cm.
Their bodies are dark brown or black, and bordered with a yellow band, while they have one band across the abdomen.
Their legs are brown with yellow ends and they have an orange face.
Asian hornets arrived in France inside Chinese pot plants in 2004 and are increasingly common across the Channel.
Since then British beekeepers have been sent warnings by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Wildlife experts warned it was “just a matter of time” before Asian hornets appear in Britain to threaten the beleaguered bee population.
The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has advised that Asian hornets are most likely to be spotted in the south of England.
MOST READ IN NEWS
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.
“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.”
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.