Ignore sensationalist UK headlines about ‘murder hornets’, Islanders told

MURDEROUS giant hornets are not about to invade the Island despite ‘sensationalist’ reports in the UK, Jersey’s Asian-hornet co-ordinator has said.

Alastair Christie, asian hornet coordinator. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31062437)
Alastair Christie, asian hornet coordinator. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31062437)

Alastair Christie said that the Vespa mandarinia – the world’s largest hornet – was not going to reach local shores any time soon.

The invasive species is native to Asia, can grow up to two inches long and can kill with one sting. It was spotted in the United States last year. However, Mr Christie maintained that recent ‘sensationalist’ headlines claiming the insect was settling in the UK were inaccurate.

He said: ‘The UK press will use the words “murder hornet” interchangeably with just about any insect that can sting. There are papers that muddy the water between Asian hornets and the hornet found in America.’

He added: ‘Could that species get to England? Well it got to America so why couldn’t it get to the UK – but what are the chances?’

Meanwhile, the number of Asian-hornet sightings in Jersey – not to be confused with the Vespa mandarinia – has surpassed record numbers, with 84 queens picked up already this year. The highest recorded number before this came in 2019 when 69 were found.

‘I am hopeful that every queen we take out is one less nest that would be established,’ said Mr Christie, adding that 17 nests had been discovered by this time in 2019 – with seven found so far this year.

The first worker hornet of the season was caught last week, in a trap in the east of the Island. This signals a ‘phase change’, when the local volunteer group can begin following the insects back to their nests.

‘There are still queens to be trapped but if we can pick up a worker on a regular basis then there is a chance that we can track it,’ he said.

Islanders are being encouraged to check their sheds, garages and other outdoor areas for nests, and to report any sightings of an Asian hornet by emailing asianhornet@gov.je, attaching a photo if possible. The species can be identified by their darker colour, a yellow/orange band across their lower end, a bright pale-yellow belt at the waist and the yellow lower half of their legs.

Mr Christie can be contacted on 441633.

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