Warning as killer Asian hornet spotted in UK area for first time in four years with fears nests could quickly spread | The Sun

AN urgent warning has been issued after an Asian hornet was spotted in a UK area for the first time in four years.

Experts also fear their nests could quickly spread, and reminded Brits of the dangers they pose.

The venomous insect was recently spotted in the Folkestone area of Kent – with the last sighting in the county being in 2019.

The British Bee Keepers Association confirmed this was the case, with a qualified bee keeper warning of the danger of the invasive species.

More than 20 nests have also already been found in on Jersey in the Channel Islands.

The change to warmer weather, with high temperatures forecast, has sparked the queens into an egg-laying frenzy.

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The Asian hornet began to spread through Europe in 2004 after arriving in the south of France inside a freight ship.

They can kill people who have an allergy with a ­single sting and can eat 50 bees in a day.

Qualified beekeeper Sue Kittle urged people to be cautious and warned of the danger of the species.

The 55-year-old told KentOnline: "These hornets are very defensive of their hives and can do what is called a mass attack.

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"You should not approach their nests."

She added: "This is an invasive species that can attack and eat our honey bees.

"It can change the whole nature of the bee hives here.

"We need to track them down and find out if this sighting is the beginning of a nest."

Sue said the insects could have come over from France, adding: "Last year was a fantastic year for hornets in France.

"It is possible they hibernated over the winter and have come across the Channel.

"It also could have been stowed away on a lorry, but we don’t know yet."

In 2016 the first UK mainland sighting was confirmed in Gloucestershire, and a second was confirmed in 2017 in Devon.

The insects are the largest of their species in the world, and were once dubbed "murder hornets" from the aggressive attacks they carry out on other hives, wiping them out in hours.

They decapitate other bees, wasps, and hornets and then use the bodies to feed their young.

For larger targets, the huge hornets deploy their potent venomous stinger, which is equivalent to that of a venomous snake and has been likened by victims to being stabbed by a hot metal prong.

Their stings have killed at least five people in France, and victims can die within minutes of being attacked unless they receive urgent medical treatment.

The venom is so powerful, it causes people to go into anaphylactic shock.

The fears of an invasion arose this time last year.

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A number of the hornets were spotted in the Channel Islands and were the first wave of a 2022 invasion.

At the time Asian hornet project co-ordinator Francis Russell said: “We tend to get Asian hornets during north-easterly winds or just afterwards.” 

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