Public told to report sightings of Asian hornets after record number of the invasive insects spotted last year

20 May 2024, 08:14

Asia hornets threaten honey bees and insect pollinators
Asia hornets threaten honey bees and insect pollinators. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

People are being urged to report any sightings of Asian hornets this summer as nature groups warn of a potential surge in damaging invasive non-native species.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The UK's chief plant health officer Nicola Spence has called for beekeepers and the wider public to be increasingly vigilant to the presence of the hornet after record sightings in the country last year.

Asian hornets pose no greater risk to human health than native hornets but threaten honey bees and insect pollinators.

The Environment Department (Defra) said the species is not established in the UK yet but early trapping is fundamental to eradication efforts.

Read more: 'Minuscule state' of RAF is 'utterly pathetic' with just one plane available for D-Day 80th anniversary parachute jumps

Read more: 'Up to 23,000 criminals each year to avoid jail' if Government loosens sentences as prisons fill up

A Spanish pest exterminator shows Asian hornet queens that he has killed
A Spanish pest exterminator shows Asian hornet queens that he has killed. Picture: Getty

It comes as the Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL), which represents 83 nature organisations, warned that recent flooding and warming temperatures have increased the risk of problem species already in the UK growing and spreading.

This includes Japanese Knotweed, which can cause structural damage, Giant Hogweed, with sap that can cause burns to skin, and Himalayan Balsam, which out-competes native species and increases flood risks.

The WCL said the volatile conditions have also increased the risk of new species establishing themselves in the UK, like the Red Imported Fire Ant, Chinese Mitten Crab and Chinese Mystery Snail, which are making their way across Europe.

Richard Benwell, WCL chief executive, said: "Invasive species are already one of the biggest threats to the UK environment, from smothering waterways to outcompeting native species.

"They also cause billions of pounds in damage a year to homes and businesses, and even pose risks to human health.

The River Trust, Plantlife and Buglife are among the groups in the coalition, which is calling for Government action to mark Invasive Non-native Species Week from Monday.

"Investment in a fully-funded inspectorate and a strong invasive species strategy could make a contribution to halting nature's decline and creating a more resilient economy," Mr Benwell said.

Dr Rob Collins, director of Policy and Science at The Rivers Trust, said the weather conditions over winter have left its local trusts "struggling to keep a wave of invasive species at bay" as wet weather scuppers their efforts.

"The Government must properly support local conservation groups nationwide who are working tirelessly to stop our waterways being smothered by nature invaders," he said.

The coalition is calling for the annual invasive species biosecurity budget to triple to £3 million with a further £3 million to fund a permanent dedicated invasive species Inspectorate.

It is also calling for long-term Government funding for Local Action Groups (LAGs) to create a biosecurity "citizens army", as recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee.

Other recommendations include reforming the process of listing "GB Invasive Species of Special Concern" and proactively managing the listed species that are already widespread and causing harm.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

x

Tory Party not sure if Craig Williams had insider knowledge on election or whether it was 'just a hunch', says minister

Tamayo Perry was killed in a shark attack.

Pirates of the Caribbean star mauled to death by shark while surfing in Hawaii

Debbie Duncan with Jay Slater

'I hope I'm not taking him home in a body bag': Jay Slater's mum feels 'let down' by conspiracy theories about her son

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport flights to 'run as usual' on Monday after mass cancellations following power cut

Park Guell by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona announces plans to ban holiday rentals for tourists from 2028

Two murder arrests after body of man pulled from lake at holiday park

Man and woman arrested on suspicion of murder after body pulled from lake at holiday park

Live
Keir Starmer on the campaign trail.

General Election LIVE: Labour to 'simplify' gender transition process as betting scandal puts pressure on Sunak

Heath alert issued for most of England as temperatures set to rise

Heat health alert to be issued for most of England as temperatures to soar amid fears for NHS

Boris Johnson has accused Nigel Farage of a "morally repugnant" repetition of Vladimir Putin's justification for the invasion of Ukraine

Boris Johnson blasts Nigel Farage for spreading 'Kremlin propaganda' over Russian invasion of Ukraine

Hungary's Kevin Csoboth, bottom, shoots past Scotland's goalkeeper Angus Gunn, top, during a Group A match between Scotland and Hungary at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Sunday, June 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Scotland knocked out of Euro 2024 following Hungary's 100th-minute goal as collision sees star stretchered off

Election betting scandal widens to include 'family and friends' of senior Tories

Election betting scandal widens to include 'family and friends' of senior Tories

Terror in Russia: Gunmen open fire at two synagogues killing six police before slitting priest's throat at Orthodox Church

Terror in Russia: Gunmen open fire at synagogue and Orthodox churches killing 15 police officers

Detective who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search for teen enters its second week

Investigator who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search targets remote buildings

M50 motorway Dublin

'Miracle' as schoolboy, 12, 'lucky to be alive' after toppling from toilet of moving coach onto motorway

Exclusive
'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to runaway following death of co-star Richard Whiteley

'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to run away following death of Richard Whiteley

Alan Hansan

Ex-Liverpool captain Alan Hansen discharged from hospital