Killer Asian hornets to hit 'alarming' record levels this year as huge numbers of pests hit British shores

AN INVASION of killer Asian hornets are expected to hit record levels in Britain this year with experts saying numbers are already very high.

The numbers of queens spotted on Jersey, are already close to hitting the record set in 2019 with 63 queens already discovered.

So far this year 38 queens have already been found by the public and 25 that have been caught in traps around the island.

In 2019, a total of 69 killer queens were found creating a new record.

The creepy creatures first appeared in Jersey, the front line of the fight against the invasive species, in 2016 and could be devastating to Britain's already struggling native bee population.

Alastair Christie, Jersey's Asian hornet co-ordinator, described the figure as "slightly alarming" but urged people not to panic.

He said: 'We are on track to surpass 2019 numbers, but trapping in 2019 was minimal and we are also a lot better at it now.

"So with the increase in trapping and the help from the public it stands to reason that we would find more. I am hoping that we have caught a greater proportion of the queens this year and that the number of nests won't be as high."

Six Asian hornet nests have also been spotted so far this year, which is lower than the figures seen this time in 2019.

Mr Christie added: "I am optimistic that we are doing a good job of catching the queens."

Asian Hornets Fact File

Asian hornets look similar to native European hornets but with darker colouring.

Their bodies are dark brown or black, and bordered with a yellow band, while they have one band across the abdomen.

Queens grow up to 3cm in length, and workers up to 2.5cm.

Asian hornets arrived in France inside Chinese pot plants in 2004 and are increasingly common across the Channel.

Asian hornets contain a neurotoxin that can kill in just a single sting.

He said the first worker hornets would be emerging in the next few weeks.

A local team of volunteers will soon begin tracking the insects, which Mr Christie said would help form a 'clearer picture' of how the rest of the year could play out.

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, attaching a photo if possible.

They were was spotted in the British Isles on the Channel Island of Jersey in late 2016.

But after years of establishing themselves on Jersey and Guernsey, the battleground shifted last year to Southern England.

The hornets are able to kill with one sting among people who have an allergy, while they also pose a threat to the environment and native species.

One hornet can also eat 50 bees in a day.

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

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