Asian hornets are HERE... those honey bee murdering BASTARDS
Flying death spotted in the Cotswolds, boffins move in for the kill
A sleepy Cotswold town could be about to witness the genocide of local honey bees following the discovery of invasive predatory Asian hornets.
Sightings of the inch-long death bringers have been confirmed in the Tetbury area in Gloucestershire for the first time.
Although it has a long, powerful stinger, it's the hornet's sharp mandibles the bees will have to look out for.
Asian hornets (Vespa mandarinia) will venture into honeybee territory and lurk outside the bees quarters, before swooping and decapitating the unsuspecting insects.
The killing spree results in a large number of bee deaths - up to 40 per minute.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it had been expecting them to arrive “for some years”.
After hitching a ride in a shipment of pottery from China, the invasive hornets made their way to France in 2004 before finally crossing the English channel.
Professor Nicola Spence, chief plant health officer at Defra, told the Beeb: "It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies.
"That's why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests."
Professor Lars Chittka, leader of the London Pollinator Project at Queen Mary University of London, said the hornets can be hard to remove.
"All it takes is a single pregnant queen to start a population. They originally came from Southeast Asia, but have already spread in France where they are now so firmly established that they're impossible to eradicate," Chittka told The Register.
Chittka advised anyone who might come into contact with the winged critters to "not to poke a stick into a nest". The hornets are fiercely territorial and can become aggressive if provoked.
The Non-native Species Secretariat, a group which focuses on invasive species in Great Britain, has told people to send a photograph and location details of the hornet sighting to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Asian hornet can be identified by a single yellow band on its dark body and brown eyes on its yellow-orange face.
Honeybee populations are swiftly declining across the UK due to various reasons such as loss of habitat, pollution and parasitic mites causing diseases, the arrival of this potential nemesis won't help. ®