Killer Asian hornets reignite their UK invasion as first insects of 2022 found

Killer Asian hornets have reignited their invasion of the UK as the first insects of 2022 have been found.

The Channel Islands was the first part of the country where an insect was found earlier this week, signalling a "fresh wave" of an invasion coming over from France.

Asian hornet project coordinator Francis Russell said the intrusion began when one was caught in Alderney last Tuesday (April 12).

A second hornet was then reported dead on the roadside in the village of L’Islet in Guernsey this week while another was caught in a queening trap in a garden on the island on Thursday (April 21).

The sightings have prompted a fresh warning to islanders to be vigilant to the fresh wave of invaders.

Mr Russell said: "We think these are coming fresh from France. The wind is set to be north-easterly through the next week.

"We tend to get Asian hornets during north-easterly winds or just afterwards. I think this is the start. I think more will be found."

The number of queens found on the Channel Islands is expected to rise as the summer approaches.

Both Jersey and Guernsey are seen as the frontline in the fight against the deadly insects and say the increase is caused by them "blowing in" from mainland Europe by strong easterly winds.

This is expected to lead to another summer-long battle to stop the spread of the insects that could decimate the UK's native bee population.

But experts say there is cause for optimism as the fact the insects are being found quite late in the spring means they are likely travellers coming from France, rather than ones that have been on the island over the winter.

In comparison more than 20 hornets have already been found in Jersey so far this year, as well as two primary nests.

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

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They were first spotted in the British Isles in late 2016 and after years of establishing themselves on Jersey and Guernsey, the battleground shifted last year to Southern England.

This led to calls for a "people's army" to help fight off an impending invasion of killer hornets onto mainland Britain.

The hornets are able to kill people with allergies with just one sting, while they also pose a threat to the environment and native species – with one hornet being able to eat 50 bees in a day.

Mr Russell said so far this year there was no pattern for the insects, so it was important for islanders to be vigilant.

He said the wind direction was likely to be the reason for the recent sightings.

A spring queening project has been set up in Guernsey in which more than 260 traps have been placed across the island over the last few weeks, aimed at catching queens before they have a chance to make nests.

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